Public schools in the past were extensions of the two-parent, multi-child family. They evolved as the institutions that often defined the neighborhood center and functioned as that center.
This, somewhat modified, has remained the model of the public school systems for decades, long after families and communities no longer are part of that model, when most families are no longer two-parent households, now in two parent homes, when both parents are likely to be working and when the mother is not likely to be at home.
I live in a community were I have access to and can readily fulfill most of my needs and demands. I'm at a stage in life where I'm sufficiently free and can still depend on myself and my own resources to fulfill who I am.
I can even change what is immediately around me and have influence on the boarder social and physical environment, where I can do this in the interest of those still here and others to come.
Perhaps there are some knowledgeable young families that don't know about the excellent school system that we have here in Shorewood.
But for the present time, the entrance fee is housing affordability. The present system of financing our schools isn't working too well. And that's what needs to be changed. I don't know of any clever way of making housing in Shorewood affordable to young families who might assist in building up our school enrollment.
I'm grateful to the Shorewood Village Planner and to the Board members serving on the committee that is studying the possibilities for upgrading our duplex stock in Shorewood. I'm also grateful to David Tartarowicz for his various studies and commentary, all of this has stimulated my interest.
They have helped me in trying to come up with some solution. For I was not at all close until I started researching “mixed neighborhoods” as both class mix and age mix type of communities. These were, sometime ago, referred to as socially balanced communities.
I've always been thankful to Steve Koczela for his postings. How else could we keep abreast of the village news, especially as to what goes on in relation to what the Shorewood Village Board is doing and what it's up to.
The Board and its various committees seems to have an affinity for “closed-door meetings.” Most often people who are not citizens of the community are permitted to attend these behind-the-scene meetings while citizens most continuously interested in our community and what the government is doing, like Steve Koczela are not allowed a peak in.
Most recently, I've found that many of my postings will draw the attention of about 50 readers over the first 24 hours. Many of my graduate student classes, of course didn't have half that many students.
The hits will usually double over a 3 to 4-day period and double again over a week to 10 days. I've been surprised to learn that over several weeks that I've had as many as 400 hits for a posting. Other bloggers, I'm sure have more impressive numbers.
Shorewood must focus on and talk about the essential elements that really respond to the organic impulses of community.
One of today's main elements of community is the school system where the children come together from all aspects of the community. Children from the various families meet and interact. Interaction is one of the basic elements of community and the schools provide that focus in the U.S.
Village and School Boards were established to bring about minimal and easy type of local governing bodies. Today's requirements have led these boards to depend on administrative personnel to carry out day to day processes.
The problem that has developed is that as local governments become more complex, the part-time elected members of boards tend to lean more on their administrative staff for all sorts of programming, scheduling, planning and new sorts of ideas.
Human beings are pretty much motivated by their desire to attain power. Power comes perhaps in as many forms as those wanting to attain it.
Today the general source of power is money. And in a general sense, most people desire money and are inclined to acquire money in millions of ways. The power of wealth is a desire found in many, if not in most people.
The discussion in my previous two postings leads to some implications for communities like Shorewood operated under a system of “village trustees” referred to as the “Village Board.”
Generally members of non-government board of trustees are appointed. However, in the case of communities the members are elected by citizens of that community.
Democratic government as devised by our forefathers aimed at the inclusion of all citizens and was based on equal representation and equal treatment.
To a great degree its structure imitated that from which it separated itself. If Washington had not been our first president, for example, perhaps precedent would have been set for electing the president as king for life.
I don't know who reads my postings, except for the indication that I get from fellow bloggers. Therefore, in a sense, these are merely notes to myself that eventually may get read by others.
I used to let my views be known to the Village Board at almost every meeting. When I first started to do that, there was a ruling that the members could not respond. So I felt like a voice in the wilderness.
When people come into our community to serve as consultants, as developers and as service agencies, we must see to it that they work in our interest, in the community's interest not merely in their own interests.
We've produced goal-oriented plans in order to avoid opportunistic development in Shorewood. Yet we seem to be following the polices of opportunism.
It seems that we're cherry-picking projects rather than working toward unified spacial designs, overall, completed and integrated cells that function together as total units or elements, at least in terms of the immediate surroundings.
I was pleased at the Village Board's meeting last night that so many citizens attended and made their views known on the various projects. We should have more of this.
We already have strong support for parks, environment and even affordable housing. How about more land acquistion for public space purposes?
All Shorewood officials and staff involved in the 4500 North Oakland Avenue project should be congratuated on their good work and the agreement that they developed with the developer. The final concept of the building is a tremendous improvement over the first rendering that I was shown. I hope the project is a successful one.
It soon became obvious that most of those attending the Shorewood Village meeting last night were representative groups opposed to a proposal for a home for the elderly at the present Riverbrook Restaurant site on Capitol.
Some indicated that this is not the proper use for this site. Others thought that the building concept, a hotel /hospital-like setting was not an appropriate structure on the rivers' edge at the gateway to Shorewood.
The elderly care proposal on Capitol Drive and the river is not for Shorewood. Someone on the Village Board or on the staff or any citizen who is for this, please come front and publicly explain your reasoning.
How many young families with children will it bring into the community? Is it “just two feet from everything” as our promotional literature indicates? “On the edge of . . . (the river) . . . at heart of everything?”
I'm finding less and less news and information in print about Shorewood. Yet we're a pretty active community doing quite a lot, especially at the political level.
We have seven trustees all with a daytime jobs and involved on various committees. This keeps them pretty busy and especially if they have children as well. Not all trustees have the same view and not all citizens agree with them either. The citizens however get to criticize what trustees do. The board members must be diplomatic with each other. That's the way it is. I guess I've been known to be a “little critical at times.”
Its been some years since I began studying local government as an area of interest, even before I became a city planner.
I got involved with small town planning as a professional planner in London (England) were we were attempting to control growth dispersal.
For the past 4 years or more, I've focused my planning and local community attention on Shorewood. I've begun writing on Shorewood from a very practical perspective and some of this has from time to time slipped into my day to day writings.
Obviously my book deals with much more than Shorewood, but Shorewood has evolved into a real model for various practical reasons, as did London when doing my PhD. thesis.
In our private affairs most of us want to be private and “not air out our dirty linen in public.”
Government on the other is a public process and needs ultimate airing and transparency. Public linen whether clean or dirty usually takes on a soiled appearance if it's not in the sunlight. Sunlight is in the interest of community.
I'm pleased to have some creditable people against this one project, so that I'm not “the lonely one.”
Its been a few months, August 7th to be exact after Steve Koszela alerted us to the for sale sign for 5 acres on the river, when I strongly urged the village to acquire these 5-acres, crazy idea.
As I think of the type of community we can become if guided appropriately, apart from the conventional and steady unguided evolutionary and market redevelopment processes, I'm saddened as to the missed opportunities.
We're told that the “extended elderly care” project on the river is part of the master plan. I didn't see anything in the master plan that said elderly care. This is an interpretation of an interpretation. Of course, the zoning element of the plan indicated commercial, that's what elderly care is, commercial or is it residential.
At the national level, “in the public interest means” in the interest of commerce. A community like Shorewood, at the local level is interested in maintaining the sales value of their homes first of all and controlling the tax burden that that ownership brings.
As public schools have been linked to both the market desirability of homeownership and to the tax burden of that ownership, school costs play a role in the public interest that Shorewood has in maintaining a low tax rate.