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Director's Blog - February 2015

Last Updated on Feb 11, 2015 at 11:33am | Department of Planning & Land Management
The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. ~The Art of War by Sun Tzu
 
I was blessed to grow up in what I consider a military family.  Every male in my family has served in the military.  I have a deep and undying respect for the men and women who put their lives on the line for their fellow countrymen.  It may seem odd that I’ve begun this month’s planning blog with a quote from Sun Tzu and his famous book on military strategy, The Art of War.  However, this quote epitomizes what I do and why I do it.
 
We’re obviously not at war in the traditional sense of the word, but I would contend that we are constantly surrounded by the enemy.  The enemy is poverty, unemployment, a decreasing population, broken families, drug abuse, a lack of respect for human life and a lack of respect for the environment in which we live.  I’m sure you could name more.  If you consider these things the enemy, and you are willing to lend a hand to combat these enemies in your own community, then you have joined the fight and are in the midst of battle. 
 
These enemies are big and they are no respecter of persons.  They are the type of enemies that have plagued us for centuries and so many times we think they are beyond our control.  In a way that is correct.  Will we end worldwide poverty by the small efforts made in Garrett County?  Probably not, but small efforts made here to help our communities, will have a ripple effect in the bigger pond.  When my kids were little I used to warn them about the galloping grumps.  Just one frown is contagious and soon everyone in the family is frowning.  However, there is also a phenomenon called the galloping good.  One act of good - one smile, one hug, one act of kindness - motivates others to do the same.  One small act leading to greater good.  That’s what I’m talking about here.  We break down the bigger issue (the war) into a smaller geography.  How does decreasing population affect Friendsville? Kitzmiller? Crellin?  Jennings? Study the issues at those levels, and you’ll almost always find small actions that, though they may not eradicate the issue, will make progress towards its defeat.  In this way, you break the war into a series of small battles, which we have a good chance of winning.
 
Sun Tzu advises us that battles are won through preparation and planning.  Next year, the County will begin the process of updating the Comprehensive Plan.  That’s where we look at policies that will drive the county forward with respect to economic development, housing, community facilities, land use, transportation, etc.  This is designed to be a very public process.  It has to be.  Policies to benefit the citizenry cannot be made without the input of said citizenry.  Some policies lead to updates to regulatory documents in order to give them the power to be implemented.  Others lead to projects, partnerships, and a broader conversation on a state or federal level, but ultimately and most importantly, to progress in defeating the enemies that attack our county.
 
We begin this year finding funding, writing a request for proposals, and soliciting for contractors to help facilitate this two year process.  By January we should have a company in place and be ready to begin.  As we prepare and plan, I ask the public to consider joining us in our efforts.  In an effort to educate the public more about the Comprehensive Plan, I will make this monthly blog a series of educational sessions concerning elements of the Plan.  By the time January rolls around perhaps we can all be prepared with ideas that will benefit our friends, families and neighbors.