kaffyr (kaffyr) wrote,

Dept. of Wonk

I Live for Zoning Journalism

Long ago I said I would know when to leave my job; it would be when municipal zoning became interesting to me. 

Zoning has been interesting to me for many years now; if not always the painful minutia, then the equally arcane thought processes that go into creating those bits of pilpul and the resulting community evolution that proceed therefrom. Did I, however, take my own advice, and get the hell out of reportorial Dodge once I realized how fascinating this all had become to me? 

Of course not. 

And so I have spent much of this week doing zoning stories.  And I am disheartened to discover that the thrill is gone. 


Yes, zoning can be thrilling.

Consider this; the nature of the zoning that your community allows, the wording of the guidelines that go into a zoning law - or ordinance, as we policy wonks like to say - all underlie the nature of your home, your street, your neighborhood, your side of town, and the entire town. The procedural methods in place to decide what your building can be built like, what size it can be, what variations you can get from the municipality to break out of the basic mould — all of those things are unseen determinants of what a community looks like.

And what a community looks like, what its internal rules allow people to make their environment look like, and the thousand related guidelines about how to fix things and when and how to fight the rules, those all play into what that community is, and what it becomes. Because just as we affect our environments by making them bend to our visions of what we want those environments to be, so the environments we put in place to create that vision in turn affect the humans living and working within them.

Software affects hardware, and hardware returns the favor. As it were. Ahem. 

Huh. Guess it's still thrilling for me. 

I. Am. Pathetic.

But at least I got the thrill back. 

This entry was originally posted at http://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/309564.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comment count unavailable comments. You can comment there or here; I watch both.
Tags: life in the circus, meanderings, reporting, work, writing
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