Another sweeping vision for Jacksonville's future has been introduced. Will it become just another report filed away in a drawer?
Many previous plans failed because they were the visions of a few people, and powerful groups — government, businesses, institutions, agencies, coalitions — didn't get on board in a meaningful, sustained way.
How is JAX2025 any different?
First, the ideas percolated from the ground up instead of from the top down. More than 14,000 people — including more than 1,000 youths — from 180 ZIP codes responded to the initial survey with their concerns and hopes for their city. Then, more than 2,000 people attended monthly meetings from January through April to shape those responses into a unified vision. That led to the release of a 98-page report at a big pep rally May 18 at EverBank Field's Touchdown Club. The public is invited to take part in the next steps, including identifying specific ways to measure progress.
There will be quarterly reports starting Sept. 27 to measure progress. Individuals, businesses and organizations can report their progress on each goal by emailing email@example.com.
JAX2025's goals — ambitious but attainable — require the financial and political support of the city's power players. The Mayor's Office and City Council will need to enact legislation to spur this community growth, some of which will require money. Can anyone currently in city government convince voters that a tax increase is necessary for the kind of big improvements made during the Better Jacksonville plan? Would any of them dare to bring it up?
Governmental support will need to be matched by private backing as well.
Most of us don't have that kind of money or power, but one of the things that makes JAX2025 different is the focus on what we as regular citizens can do.
At the May 18 event, volunteers handed out yellow cards that said, "This is my personal commitment to Jacksonville. And I promise to do this by Oct. 27, 2013."
The report offers suggestions for what you can do to support the 10 targets outlined in the JAX2025 vision. Many of them are simple; some require a bit of work. Here are a few of the things I'm committing to do.
Fuel a vibrant arts and entertainment scene: I will buy a subscription to a local theater group. I will attend exhibits at museums and galleries and events like One Spark and the Jacksonville Jazz Festival.
Make Jacksonville a clean and green city: I will invite a coworker to carpool a few times a month. I will pick up trash whenever I walk on the beach. I will carry reusable bags in my car to use when shopping.
Ensure Jacksonville is known as a diverse and inclusive community: I will continue to advocate for an amendment to the Human Rights Ordinance to protect the LGBT community. I will initiate conversations with more people I don't know. I will not tolerate jokes or slurs that target people or groups.
Create great neighborhoods, including Downtown: I will continue to attend Downtown events such as Art Walk, Riverside Arts Market and Community First Saturdays. I will try to meet one new neighbor a month.
Build a vibrant economy: I will patronize locally owned businesses as often as possible. I will participate in area cash mobs. I will continue to offer some of the best internship opportunities for young journalists in Northeast Florida.
Prioritize excellence in education: I will
read with my daughter every day. I will
support efforts to make a separate tax district to fund Jacksonville Public Library
(savejaxlibraries.com). I will donate supplies and time to my daughter's teachers. I will help Folio Weekly readers know how they can get involved in education efforts, like signing the Jacksonville Public Education Fund One by One Community Agreement.
Develop exemplary governance: I will inform readers about issues important to Northeast Florida and let them know how they can get involved.
Create one of the healthiest communities in the country: I will go to a farmers market — when my growing garden doesn't provide enough fruits and vegetables. I will return to running and walking regularly (I fell off the wagon in April). I will continue not to smoke and try to convince those who do to quit. I will be a healthy, active example for my daughter.
Create a hub of smooth transportation: I will try to take the bus to work occasionally, but it's not going to be easy. After using the clunky JTA trip planner (jtafla.com), I learned it would take almost two hours, two buses and a connection through Downtown to get from my home in Arlington to work on Philips Highway. I have even more compassion for those who rely on an outdated bus system to get around in this huge city.
Ensure Jacksonville is a place where people matter: I will invite you to send in nominations for bouquets to recognize people's good works. I will ask you for your JAX2025 ideas so that we can share them in Folio Weekly.