Planning for the future

As I mentioned in my end of the year post,  one of the reasons for my absence from blogging has been how busy I’ve been at work.  While I’m in a current lull, it’s not going to last.  One of the reasons for that is that I have been doing a lot of writing for professional reasons, so writing blog posts comes under the category of “too much.”   What the writing is about is our management plan.  No, it’s not “organizational management,” it relates to our facility plan.

What’s that?  It’s sometimes referred to as a unit management plan, and it’s something you have to do if anything relates to or impacts state lands in the Adirondacks.  They’re big, complex documents.  It’s an environmental impact statement, a history document, detailed descriptions of existing infrastructure, plans for maintenance, changes,  and proposals  for additional infrastructure all rolled into one.  The basic rule of thumb is that if it’s not in the plan, you can’t do it. Getting one into place requires a lot of effort,  including getting through multiple agency approvals.  The one I’m working under was approved 13 years ago, and the work on it started 7 years prior to that.   Two years ago, I was told that we were going to be updating it.   So I’ve been running around doing surveys, taking tons of pictures, downloading satellite images, looking up any changes in regulations, and generally been up to my ears in this,  in addition to my usual workload.  Have I completed it? No, I still have at least another year, and that’s before we start trying to get it through the agency approvals.  This coming year will be what I call “ground truthing,” which is where I’m going to be making my case to for this by taking people out into the field,  so I can explain “this is why I want this here, and that moved there.”  Sometimes you have to see it in person to understand it.

It will be taking all the things I (and others) think should be, improvements or changes to existing things, plans for new infrastructure, and getting them into a document that will pass muster.  It’s going to describe and justify “the ideal.”   So, if it’s all approved, when will I see it being done?  I won’t.   You see, I’m writing a plan for the future.  Whether it will ever get done is dependent on a large number of things, and honestly?  I doubt it’ll happen anytime soon.  Our current plan has four major infrastructure projects in it that haven’t been done, and won’t be for the next few years, if ever.  As to why they weren’t done, it comes down to funding and competing priorities.  In an ideal world there would be adequate funding for all the projects, and completion would be just a matter of scheduling.  In reality, limits exist, and someone’s “it just fell apart and has to replaced” is more important than “I’d like this done.”     It’s why I don’t expect to see my plans completed, so I’ve been focusing on accomplishing now are the things I can get done that don’t need the document’s approval.    So why bother putting forth all that effort?  Because I know someday, there will be funding and we’ll be at the top of a priority list.  It might not be enough to get everything done in one fell swoop, but a major project that’s been languishing for a while will be done.   You see, it’ll be in the plan.

What does this have to do with politics?  It’s an example of pragmatism.  I’ve seen a lot of hype over the past decade about sweeping changes various progressives have been advocating.  Green energy, single-payer healthcare, campaign finance reform, curbing corporations, banks, walkable communities, education changes, you name it, they have an ideal solution.  They want their ideal, and they want it yesterday!  When it turns out that it’s not possible “right away” or even only in piecemeal, they scream, throw temper tantrums, and walk away.  I don’t.  I know about the obstacles, I know about the competing priorities, and I recognize that funding might not be available “right now.”  It doesn’t mean that I don’t think their ideal is wonderful, it means I’m not expecting it anytime soon.  So in the meantime, I’ll focus on what we can get for now, and if it happens a piece of it can be gotten in the near future, I’ll go after that.  But you see, I regard the ideal as a plan.  Something to work for, and something I may never see.  But it’s in the plan.

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One response to “Planning for the future

  1. Great points all! When the stimulus bill in 09 talked about shovel ready projects I think somebody realized that people all over the country had been planning for the future just as you described. The Forest Service had such a list and we got new concrete vault toilets (outhouses) out of it.