I didn't wait to get invited to the table

When my wife & I bought our home in Dunwoody in the summer of 2008, we had no idea about the cityhood effort. After investing in major renovations and repairs, we moved into our home in January, 2009. Within a few short weeks, I started learning about who are the civic leaders & community influencers. Then I started meeting with them one on one, I had a 2-sided executive summary I used for my conversations that had a bullet list of action items, and supporting references as to why we as a city should undertake those measures. 

I got myself appointed to the Sustainability Commission (now named as a Committee) and the Master Transportation Plan Steering Committee. I kept moving on from there, building a network. Being engaged, not only asking for things from the city, but doing things. Volunteering. Raising funds to put back into our community. 

Bottom Line: I didn't wait to be asked for a seat at the table. I interjected myself into the circle of 2-3 dozen people that had been pulling the strings behind the scene of Dunwoody -- before and after cityhood. And of course I connected and lobbied our seven elected officials, and developed good relationships with key city staff & management. 

Why did I become engaged, and why am I still? Because I've lived in other countries. Visited myriad of cities, and said, "Why Not Here"? Why should we have to go somewhere else to have a vibrant city for all ages to live, work & play? After all, many of those iconic places you're familiar with were not always that way. I could write a very long list showing before & after photos, including places in the USA and overseas. Some of you may be astonished of the transformation. After a decade of being a city, I'm tired of excuses. And so are most of my friends & neighbors. 

What will it take for us to transform here in Dunwoody? 

The first step is to be engaged. Yes, attending a city council meeting on Monday nights at 6 pm is really, really tough. So contact your council & mayor and insist they continue to make changes so that working professionals and parents with young children can actively participate. 

The second step I recommend is reviewing our city's inaugural Comprehensive Land Use Plan approved in 2010. Practically everything people are insisting our city do; to transform and move forward, is inside that guiding document. 

"The Comprehensive Land Use Plan is the preeminent legal document guiding future development in Dunwoody. The Comprehensive Land Use Plan provides the city with a roadmap on long-range policy direction for land use, transportation, economic development, housing, public facilities, inter-governmental agreements along with its natural and cultural resources."

Here's the vision and goals for our city as defined just four short years ago:

Do these goals sound crazy? Do they sound like they're from some out-of-touch wacko? No. Of course everyone is going to support "Preserve our Neighborhoods". But what about the rest of them? Why is there such a disconnect in the actions of our city council, and why are they so afraid to take these steps? A couple of years ago, a current council member took me aside in reference to a future, visionary direction and said, "That is not what the people who voted for me want". SERIOUSLY. That is what we're dealing with here, my friends. 

The Comprehensive Plan was updated in 2015 and can be found here

The final step is to VOTE. This November 5th, the city has elections for a new mayor and three at-large council members. Everyone in the city gets to vote for all of these four positions. Come up with your criteria for who'll you vote for. What are your priorities? And to those who have previously held elected office, look at their voting record and initiatives. What visionary, transformative actions have they undertaken to move Dunwoody beyond the initial city start up phase of basic / essential services and zoning, moving beyond the "state of good repair" and basic day-to-day operations that every citizen expects as a matter-of-fact?