Calling for a Collective Visioning Process
Last week’s letter from Frank Constantino, “We Need a More Inclusive Process” offered many salient arguments for why Winthrop needs a town-wide collective vision achieved through an inclusive public planning process. He writes of the challenges we will continue to face as new development projects strive to adhere to zoning guidelines that require them to be “compatible with community character”, while there is no official, cohesive definition of what that community character actually is. Winthrop means different things to different people, and often our perception of place can be shaped not only by our own experiences but by hearing and learning from the experiences of those with which we share this community. Mr.Constantino asks us all, as Winthrop residents, to “take stock of what the town means to us, and in some collective manner- perhaps initiated by each precinct’s Town Council member- identify the elements that would help us all determine the ‘Character’ of our Town, document how you see the town, and send your ideas to the Town Council and Town Manager”.
I propose that we take this effort a step further and fold it in to what our new Town Manager, Austin Faison, discussed in his interviews: a “Winthrop 2030 Plan”. Most cities and towns today have adopted some form of a “Master Plan” or “Comprehensive Plan” as both a roadmap for progress over the next 20-30 years and a set of goals and benchmarks with which we can evaluate and steer that progress. Examples from nearby municipalities include Swampscott’s “Swampscott 2025: The Master Plan”, Somerville’s “Somervision” and Boston’s “GoBoston 2030” (all varying sizes of population, capacity, etc). Master Plans are- or rather, should be- developed through extensive community outreach and public participation with the guidance of urban planning professionals, and contain sections on key issues such as housing, economic development, transportation and infrastructure, environmental sustainability, and more. Winthrop’s CBD Master Plan, adopted in 2017, serves to provide some of this guidance but only for a limited geography of the town, and apparently through a public process that many do not feel was inclusive or transparent (I was not a resident here until the final phase of that plan). This is not to say that this document should be left to collect dust on the shelf, but rather that it is not sufficient to provide the level of comprehensive guidance and visioning that could be achieved through a town wide master plan.
A “Winthrop 2030 Plan” can capture our best thinking as a community while helping us to both identify our priorities and values and make a plan that captures them. Initiating an inclusive public visioning process- one that effectively engages residents of all ages, backgrounds and demographics- will no doubt illuminate our differences; but it will also allow us to see and hear one another in a neutral, facilitated environment guided by factual information about our town’s history, trends and current state of affairs, and to find that, more often than not, we share much more common ground than we think.
The author is the Chair of the Winthrop Transportation Advisory Committee and holds a Master’s Degree in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning from Tufts University.
To the residents and employees of Winthrop:
We are beyond grateful for the outpouring of love we received during the days following Michael’s passing. From the firefighters and police officers who stood so diligently in full gear during his services, to the many friends who brought us food and flowers, there are so many things that have provided us comfort through these days. But ultimately what it comes down to is the love that this town has shown us. Friends, family and local residents stood in line for hours in the cold to offer their condolences during visiting hours, and we are so grateful for that. It is moments like these when you realize how special our town is. The people in Winthrop have embraced us like family; nourished us with food, sat with us and cried and have provided such support. We are eternally grateful.
To: Mr. Honan and the Residents of Winthrop;
I cannot thank you enough for everything that you and the folks in Winthrop have done for me. I have just received another carepackage from you and not only do I appreciate the contents but I’m also extremely grateful for the fact that you guys are thinking about us out here and are taking the time to put together these packages.
The other guys have really enjoyed the mini care packages that areinside each box as, unfortunately, some of the other Marines do not have as much support back home.
When I received the ChristmasTree care packages, I gave one of the trees to my rack-mate and he thought it was awesome, although I don’t think he knew how to decorate it hahah! He ate pretty much all the candy and left the tree bare to the branch haha.
So, hopefully as you can tell, we are all enjoying these packages that you have been sending me. You are helping out many Marines out here.
Just to tell you a little about my deployment here in Afghanistan, we are in the northern Helmand Province of Afghanistan just south of Sangin. We are Marines from 3rd Platoon, 3/4 Lima Co. stationed out of Twentynine Palms, Calif.
The deployment is turning to the last few months out here and it’s seemed to have gone by pretty fast, in my opinion. The mission that we’ve been conducting out of our small camp is to advise and assist the Afghan National Army in their combat operations against the Taliban. It’s a different time for us in Afghanistan and our role here is doing the best we can to allow the ANA stand on their own two feet. The end goal is for us to be able to leave here feeling confident in their abilities to diminish theTaliban. The ANA is a very different military from that of our own so sometimes getting them to understand why we do things a certain way is difficult.
This is my first deployment and it has been aneye-opening experience. I’ve learned so much and seen such a different side of our world. It is truly life changing. I apologize for not reaching out sooner, but our internet circumstances have not been ideal while we’ve been here.
I look forward to keeping in touch and answering anyquestions that you or the people of Winthrop might have. Again, I cannot thank you enough for the immense support!
(of Swampscott, MA)
P.S. Way to go Pat’s WOOOO!!!