Democracy in 16 Millimeter is Better

Does the current Hollywood Blockbuster of national/state politics have you down? Are today’s big budget political franchises and reboots, complete with social media product placement, leaving a bad taste in your mouth? Is that bad taste making you wonder if this whole democracy thing might be an impossibility in today’s political Hollywood?

If so, check out some “independent,” lo-fi politics instead. You might get your democracy mojo back.

Last night I had the great pleasure to attend a meeting of the Victory Hills Neighborhood Association’s Traffic Committee. In case you don’t know anything about Victory Hills, here’s a graphic:

vhna traffic study counts
Traffic counts 2000/2015 for major streets in and near Victory Hills. More precisely, the neighborhood is bordered by Garfield to the north, then Richmond, Girard, Gibson, and Yale, moving clockwise. 

As someone living miles away from Victory Hills in the deep South Valley, what drew me to the meeting was running into an amazing traffic/crash study, one that includes plenty of juices graphics such as the one shown above. One of the “stars” or “plot twists” of that study is an interesting, infamous, and unique traffic circle/diverter combo at Columbia and Santa Clara. BB wrote a little something about the study and that traffic circle/diverter a few weeks back.

The Victory Hills Traffic Committee has been meeting for months and months and months. Since some time back in early 2017. The sheer amount of work put in is both politically invigorating and impressive. Last night’s meeting featured sharing of public ideas toward solving problems found in both the study and simply living in the neighborhood.

Folks, just plain folks like you and me, shared their ideas and preferences. Ideas ranged from broad approaches, such as fixing sidewalks and other features that would make it safer and healthier for residents to walk through their neighborhood, to very specific proposals, such as moving the diverter at Columbia/Santa Clara from the east to west side of the intersection.

As we’re once again talking about the relative star of last night’s show, let’s take a lo-fi red carpet look:

columbia signage
The proposal mentioned above would make it impossible for this white truck to do anything but simply back up and turn around on Santa Clara back west to Yale Blvd. Interesting idea.

For about an hour, folks shared their ideas in a public forum without fear of being criticized. No Hollywood. No Demagogues. I didn’t even take photos because doing so would be out of place. Too showy. It was just democracy like that Norman Rockwell painting, but even better, because Rockwell wasn’t there to paint it.

Councilor Pat Davis was there, as was Tim Brown, CABQ’s new lead Traffic Engineer. They were appropriately low-key, apolitical, and very informative. They also left before the ideas were expressed, which seemed to make folks feel even more comfortable in sharing. The ideas will reach Davis, Brown and others “in charge,” via a thorough note-taking system employed by the Neighborhood Association.

In short: these Victory Hills folks have got democracy going on.

I’m sure they are not alone and grassroots democracy is happening elsewhere, a form of government seemingly not found anywhere beyond the neighborhood level. Go find some. It’ll make you feel better about it all.

One thing I don’t know if you’ll find in other neighborhoods, however, is a traffic study such as the one crafted and curated by the Victory Hills Neighborhood Association Traffic Committee. If every single neighborhood in town/county had a similar study to work with, the level of roadway democracy possible would be amazing.

Like it was last night amid the rain and lightning in little ‘ol Victory Hills.







One thought on “Democracy in 16 Millimeter is Better

  1. I think the Gibson and girard lower numbers must be transposed.

    I do like this stuff, and love that politics is relatively accessible here. National politics definitely has me pulling out what little hair I have left, but if I’m honest with myself, it impacts my daily life far less than the local goodness. If course, my job could easily be defunded at either the state or national whims tomorrow, so i should be a little careful what i say.


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