I started Great Streets San Diego (GSSD) just a short 5 years ago. In this age of instantaneous response, 5 years is an eternity. But in terms of having an effect on the public realm, it is a very short time indeed. People truly interested in the public realm know that they may never live to see the impact they have, or see the street tree they plant provide shade for generations to come.
What a short strange trip it’s been, but now the time for it to end has come. Last month I moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, and so my short, intense, and I hope, impactful interaction with San Diego’s streets must come to an end.
I can see your face right now. Yep, you did what everyone does when I tell them I moved from San Diego to Indianapolis. That quizzical look of “are you crazy?”. I get that look from people in San Diego as well as Indianapolis. That, to me, is part of the charm of Indianapolis.
People in Indianapolis don’t quite know what they’ve got in this gem of a midwest city. I hope they never do, or at least never fill themselves with conceit enough to believe that their City is already perfect. It is that drive to improve, to be better, to become something greater that has created a place that not only rivals San Diego, but truly exceeds it in many ways.
I’m not going to bash San Diego as I leave. It sure is tempting, though, especially in light of the recent Uptown Bikeway Project debacle. Oh, no … I remember what befell Jay Porter when he (in)famously wrote about his departure from San Diego and declared it a City where “There isn’t much political will to do simple things to make San Diego a good place to live.”, and “…just wasn’t stoked on where the City was going.” How many people have to leave San Diego and say essential the same thing for San Diego to get it? (re-read it in this VOS article)
To improve, you have to want to improve, and be humble enough to admit your shortcomings. Indianapolis has that, maybe to a fault, but that attitude has created a good and ever improving City.
“There is much more to a City than good weather.” That is what I tell all the surprised people who question my motives about moving to Indianapolis. Only then do they seem to agree with and understand my motives for the move.
This may be the end of Great Streets San Diego, but not the end of my advocacy, education, and work for a better Public Realm. I hope you will follow me on Facebook at “Design4People” and on Twitter @WaltChambers3 where I will continue to take all that I have learned as an urbanist and as person and fight for cities designed with people as the first priority.
Thank you to Roger Showley, Howard Blackson, Mike Stepner, Samantha Ollinger, Paul Jameson, Kathleen Ferrier, and Jim Dax for your friendship, encouragement, and help. Without you, Great Streets would have never been possible. Keep fighting the good fight!