“Can’t we all just get along?” – Rodney King
Every time I think of the Tri-Cites and the division among the communities, I am reminded of that quote. For those of you that don’t remember the context of that quote (those of you under the age of 30 may be in that boat) it was a crazy dark time for Los Angeles. The citizens did not agree with the “leadership” (I use that term lightly) and they revolted…literally. L.A. became a war zone. It wasn’t pretty.
Granted…we haven’t had, nor do I foresee, any violent uprising like that in our quiet corner of Washington. But for some reason, we just can’t seem to get along here in Tri-town…it’s concerning to me. I grew up in Virginia Beach, VA. Va. Beach was part of a 7 city area in Southeastern Virginia known as Hampton Roads. There were well over a million people there…and each person and city seemed to have a different opinion about what was best for the area. Norfolk was primarily the business center and had a thriving downtown. Va. Beach was the sprawling suburbia that attracted all of the tourists. Portsmouth was the other side of the tracks. Suffolk was the farming town. Chesapeake was were you moved to get away from Norfolk, Portsmouth and Va. Beach “problems.” Newport News and Hampton were on the other side of the water and were places you didn’t go to if you lived on the Southside. Stick with me…I’m setting up a story here.
In the early 2000’s, traffic had become a major issue…well much earlier than that truth be told. If you think 240 is busy here in the afternoon, you should have seen interstate 64 and 264 during rush hour. It was nothing for a commute to take 2 hours to go 10 miles. Norfolk and Virginia Beach had a plan to build a light rail that would take you from downtown Norfolk to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront with stops along the way. This was the busiest corridor in the area. It needed relief…bad. Problem was that Norfolk and Virginia Beach could never get on the same page. Norfolk went ahead with the plan and built it from one side of the city all the way up to the Virginia Beach city limit. It helped…but it didn’t cure the problem. That is what I am seeing a lot of here in the Tri-Cities. Ideas that help…but don’t fix the issues. Why? Because we can’t all just get along.
Each city has its own agenda, its own set of rules, and its own set of issues it is trying to solve. Wouldn’t it be in the best interest of the public to come together on these issues? I’m not saying having all of the cities become one (although that would help a lot of the issues…but not cure all, I know). I am simply talking about being able to work together…you know…like they taught us to do in kindergarten? It starts from the top and trickles down to the public. A bunch of agendas, shrouded by a bunch of personalities, and wrapped up in bureaucratic bullshit. We’ve all smelled it and probably stepped in it at some point. It holds up back from being a grand place to call home.
And that is what I am looking for…a grand place to call home. Hampton Roads had a bunch of good places individually, but it missed the opportunity to be GRAND as a whole. The same holds true in my opinion for the Tri-Cities…we are good individually, but we are missing the opportunity to be something more. Community is about the individuals working hard for the whole. Let’s not be happy with good. Let’s become GRAND!