I think about the future a lot now, more than I ever have before. It's Emerson's fault. He's 6 1/2 months old now. Last week, he took a spoon from my hand and fed himself rice cereal. I'm pretty sure he's begun waving on purpose and I convince myself he's trying to babble out "dad." Yesterday, both our pediatrician and our waitress at Crabby Bill's said he was "advanced." (I was skeptical after the former said it but the latter cofirmed it.)
I hope it's true because he's going to be growing up in complicated times in a pretty complicated place.
See, I want to raise my family where I currently live--St. Petersburg, Florida.
I don't mean to use my kid as a prop and I don't want to soapbox my way through this, but I've been consumed by it lately. St. Pete, and the region at large, is at a crossroads. And we have to decide now--like right now--what we want our future to be.
Do we remain a sleepy, quiet enclave? Do we continue to let people from other places think of Coccoon when they think of St. Petersburg? (That was kind of a rhetorical question but I offer this: I like Steve Guttenberg (a lot), but I answer that question negatively.)
Or can we be more? Need we be more?
And if we agree we need to be more, how do we get there?
I think the answer begins with investing in meaningful, functional mass transit.
The Tampa Bay area only moves 1/3 of the people using mass transportation as other metropolitan areas of similar size. And that's a shame. And that's not sustainable. For those of us in St. Pete, we live in the fourt largest citcy in Florida and in the most densely populated county. And we need to act like it.
I see a future where I can take Emerson to DisneyWorld for the weekend on light rail, where the Rays are fine just where they are because there's a station at the stadium. I see a St. Petersburg where employers want to move here because we have a world class transit system that connects our world class downtowns and waterfront and beaches, where our centers of commerce are linked together. I see a future where neighborhoods are allowed to flourish, where Midtown and South St. Pete are given an opportunity to thrive, at last realizing the dream of a seamless city.
That's why this Saturday, June 1, I'm attending Connect Tampa Bay's Transit Workshop, being held at Pinellas Realtor Organization in Clearwater, starting at 9am. I'm excited to be around likeminded people who understand that if we want the future we deserve we need to take the broad view. I think we will get this done but a big part of it will be public education--learning how to talk about this, convince folks, engage people on the issue.
I hope to see some of you there. I'm doing it for Emerson, because such an advanced little boy deserves an advanced community.