Monday, August 6, 2012

"They Don't Think LIke Dunwoody"

What would it be like to live or work in a city and be told that you don't deserve your job or location because you "don't think like" everyone else?  Even if every issue has a spectrum of opinions and public comments?

I heard that chilling comment at the latest DHA meeting.

It bothered me because so many in Dunwoody come from somewhere else.  The northern part of Atlanta's metro  has grown because  of the influx of new citizens from elsewhere.

They didn't leave their ideas and opinions at city limits.  The last time I checked, I didn't see any thought requirements in any HOA bylaws, including the DHA.

Dunwoody is still young and the "growing pains" as we develop our identity as a city are bound to continue.  There's been an interesting mix of voices demanding that more citizens become involved in voting or whatever process is in the spotlight, and demands that only certain points of view be given serious consideration.

(Reference:  The Other Dunwoody - More Dunwoody Than You)

Cases in point:

"The City should hire Dunwoody companies first for all of our projects."  I'm all about supporting local businesses and keeping Dunwoody's money here.  I've been on this particular bandwagon myself in other posts.  The latest complaint about auslanders' input on Dunwoody was the recent signage proposal from KMA - based in Pennsylvania.  I wondered just which Dunwoody companies bid for projects and were rejected.  There's a list on the City's Purchasing Division page.

As far as I could tell, there were no bids from ANY Dunwoody or Dunwoody-owned companies!!  Not even one!!  I was shocked because with the number of sign companies in and around our town, surely someone must have submitted a bid!  (Ditto for IT companies, marketing companies, etc.  I checked ALL of the bid lists and RFPs that are available online. )  But there wasn't. There were bids from large companies based in Atlanta (including Sky, who created the city logo and did the first research on the "mood" of the city and how it saw itself).  There are others from around Georgia.  But not a single one from Dunwoody itself.

You can't hire a company if they don't submit a bid.   If Dunwoody companies don't want to bid for city services...   does that mean we can't hire anyone else?   Someone please correct me if I'm wrong but I Googled all the company names and not one had contact information in a Dunwoody zip code.

"The people hired to work at City Hall are not 'from Dunwoody' and that is a 'problem'."  

Does this complaint include our elected officials?  Because all of them (past and present) have resided in Dunwoody for far less time than those complaining about city hall employees.  No one at City Hall was born anywhere near Dunwoody.  (Again, corrections welcome, but I checked this before posting it.)  There were even suggestions that the Community Development director should not be in his position either.  Is there a litmus test to be applied for city hires?  Who will create and administer it?

Here's a real-life situation where "old" and "new" ideas can be symbiotic:
In a couple of my larger projects where I am one developer within a group (sorry, gang, can't go into details, these all have signed NDAs tied to them) I stand out from the other team members because a) I am the eldest and b) much of my skills are self-taught.  My team members are usually in their teens and twenties and  are the result of a computer-science curriculum.

Computer Science courses teach basic programming skills, but are often light on "real life" applications where those skills are used to solve problems for a customer, who is not a computer science major.  Students of these courses often get stuck in a "groupthink" mentality where lack of life experience is a hinderance.  They can't put themselves in their customers' shoes so to speak, and their skills can't solve the problem.  My role has often been to show these programmers the POV they're missing and use solutions that I created outside of the box.  (Because I've never been IN the box in the first place!)  Then the problem gets solved and the customer is happy.  In return, I learn the latest in computer programming from the latest classes without having to plunk down tuition or take time away from home, family, and work.

Is it just a little bit possible that self-proclaimed "real" Dunwoodians are too close to their problems to see the solution?  Is it also a little bit possible that "real" Dunwoodians are so wrapped up in their conflicts - signage, zoning, parks, whatever it is - that they can't step outside their self-created box and invent a new solution that includes diverse points of view?  Maybe some objectivity from a fresh face that exists outside the Dunwoody box is just what the doctor ordered.

"Not enough people are involved in the city.  I so wish younger people would start getting involved.  Where are they?"

To those who express the above thought:  supposing someone new did pop their head up and express their ideas as part of "getting involved."  Whatever would you do with them?  Listen to their POV, even if it differs from yours?  Would you find common ground?  Or would you pursue the tried-and-true path of dismissing them if they think "differently"?  Would you try to get their POV dismissed or censored?  Would you try to get the PERSON dismissed?  Would you force them on to the defensive by challenging them to a fight?

 I am positive that there are people that honestly don't care about City Hall and its politics.  I am equally positive that personal commitments keep others from involvement.  But if you are one of the people that asks the question, "Why aren't more involved?" ask yourself "Would I want to get dragged into a public fight over an idea when all I want to do is make a living and raise my family in peace?"  Because that's what many "other" Dunwoodians don't want to deal with and that prevents them from being "part of the process."

How does "Dunwoody" really think?  It's not a simple answer and there's more than one.  Again, I reference the research report created by Sky as their foundation for the city branding project.  Read the comments - this is what people honestly say when they feel safe to speak freely.  There are some common threads but a full spectrum of thoughts that diverge from each other.  Which of them is the real Dunwoody?

Here's a hint:  it's a lot more than the ones that agree with you.


 

7 comments:

Ken Thompson said...

OUCH!

As the owner of a fading MS in CompSci this really stings:

"Computer Science courses teach basic programming skills, but are often light on "real life" applications where those skills are used to solve problems for a customer, who is not a computer science major."


Perhaps much has changed since the early '80's, certainly grade, title and degree inflation has been rampant. If a Computer Science graduate is working as a programmer both she and her employer are getting ripped off. If you want a programmer, get one. Nonetheless it seems that what we called "coders" are now "software engineers" and "programmers" are now "computer scientists" (or are they "architects"?) Boston University states it quite well:

"Computer Science is no more about building computers and developing software than astronomy is about building telescopes, biology is about building microscopes, and music is about building musical instruments! Computer science is not about the tools we use to carry out computation."

On your real topic about "new to dunwoody", CoD has not been around long enough for folks to move here because they are attracted to the aspects of this community that differentiate it from surrounding communities. That may take decades.

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

Sorry, Ken, I'm calling it as I see it as of 3 days ago. Yes, much has changed since my school days and what I see is that the more recent grads come out of their coursework thinking that the skills they have learned are sufficient to solve real-life problems. Those grads learn the hard way that it isn't. You just can't substitute coursework for trips around the sun in formulating a solution for a customer. The point is, that those different viewpoints can benefit each other if you open your mind and let them.

Re: taking decades - try a century. That's what Roswell, Norcross, Alpharetta, etc have had. Thanx for visiting again!

Bob Lundsten said...

the "THEY" word or "THEM" is thrown around alot here in Dunwoody.
Great Post

Joe Seconder said...

I hope that the Mayor & Council see beyond & understand there are "others" that wish the city to do well, continue moving forward & think outside of the box. Those "others" appreciate forward-thinking and see the increased value being added in our city in it's short history and the vision expressed in our master plans. And, those "others" are busy with their own lives instead of hanging out at City Hall on weeknights. They are working, taking their kids somewhere, going to a baseball game, movie, a restaurant, to the gym, having 1/2 price pizza on Monday nights at Alon's, happy hour after work looking for a date for the weekend, or maybe even out on a bike ride.... They are the silent majority.

John Heneghan said...

Nice post and wonderful tie in with the video.

I know the City of Dunwoody employs several Dunwoody residents. Four years ago we hired a Dunwoody resident to be our City Manager, about six or seven police officers currently live within the City limits, another resident is in administrative services, the former City Attorney is a Dunwoody resident, most volunteers on the various city boards and finally all elected officials are residents.

As far as getting more people involved, I agree. I have attempted to fill committee vacancies from a wide spectrum of residents but sometimes it is hard to do so because of peoples other time commitments.

Ken Thompson said...

I was being generous. I suspect CoD will not settle into something that will differentiate or attract within my lifetime. That in no way detracts from the comedic value of the intervening years.

Max said...

One demographic fact that helps define Dunwoody is that quite a few residents are here on corporate assignments, educational pursuits, and the like. Which means that there has always been turn-over in the 35-45 year old population, as these folks move on to the next job assignment or graduate and leave.

Many homeowners are retired, chose to stay and comprise the largest active set of folks we see at Council, other meetings. Having grown up in St. Pete, FL, I derive a certain comfort in this fact; usually older folks are less likely to put up with nonsense.

"We need to stop buying things, and start fixing things," resonated with enough citizens to change our City Council, accordingly.

An electronic and physical quarterly Townhall Meetings in each District would help bring new ideas to those elected. Not everyone likes to post on blogs, nor does everyone like to appear and speak in public.

I am pleased that there was a strong turnout to the last Zoning RE-Write, and look forward to more opportunities for folks to weigh-in on their concerns and visions for our future.