Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Memo to Hillsdale: Missoula makes it happen

I’m back from six days in Montana. Most of the time was in Missoula, which displayed real civic accomplishments that are still striking, particularly since some are identical to visionary ideas we have in Hillsdale.

Of course Missoula is a municipality and can do what it wants. Here we are beholden to the Portland City Council and several other disparate urban and regional entities. We have virtually no say over what happens to our tax dollars, which are thrown into the urban stew.

Missoula’s own council is more than twice the size of ours and far more representative.

The City is divided into six wards with each ward having two representatives. City Council members reside in the ward they represent. Missoula's neighborhood system is as active as our own, and far better organized. (More on this in a later post)

Of course Portland and Missoula are widely different in size. Missoula's population in 2000 was is 56,000. It's probably 70,000 now. Comparisons between the two cities are, accordingly, immediately suspect.

Still, the photos show the ways that Missoula has built many of our Hillsdale visions.

We’ve talked about summer concerts at the Wilson High School stadium. While I was in Missoula, the city put on its eighth International Choral Festival with groups from nine different countries and states like Michigan, Colorado, California and Utah. Every three years for the past 22, the community has put on the festival. The grand finale concert is held on the gridiron of Grizzly Stadium at the University of Montana. Note the inflatable band shell in the photo. The performers are from South Korea.

Missoula is saying loud and clear: It can be done, folks, right there on the American holy of holies: football turf.

Down by the Clark Fork River is a landmark tower, part of the old train station. We could use such a tower next to the Casa Colima restaurant.

And across the river in a park is an outdoor theater (Let’s put ours in the underused Hillsdale Park) and a covered place for a Farmers Market. With one of those, we’d have shade in the summer and shelter in the winter.

All of these civic improvements result from a will that made a way. We can do it too.

Tomorrow: A combination peace institute, fair-trade store and private lending library.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home