Wanted: Visionaries -- not a vision


A short insightful reply to "The Tulsa Time Blues" was posted on Tulsa Now's forum, by someone signing himself "wilburchannelcat". (It's the third post on that topic.)

Tulsa doesn't need a plan or a vision. We need planners and visionaries. We need people who are willing to take risks. We need wealthy citizens to step up to the plate and to support the planners and visionaries. We need great public schools around downtown so that people with children do not feel the pull to suburbia for the sake of their children's education. We need low interest loans to entice entrepreneurs to come downtown. We need to give Michael Sager a big wet kiss for actually doing something with his downtown property. We need to forget about Boeing because they are not going to move to Tulsa - we don't have a deep sea port and nothing can change that. We need influential Tulsans to move downtown and not just talk about what a wonderful place it could be. We need leaders that will raise our standards for what is considered to be good architecture. We need to realize that Major League Soccer doesn't attract a large crown in major cities like Dallas and Kansas City so it probably won't attract a crowd in Tulsa. We need to support the Businesses that have already set up shop in and around Downtown.

Good points all. Many observers have noticed that Tulsa doesn't have many risk-takers these days. We have the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of risk-takers and wildcatters, but they keep their trust fund money in safe investments.

Tulsa needs people embued with the spirit of the wildcatters -- willing to pursue their unique vision and spend to make it happen. A crown jewel like Villa Philbrook was not built with government funding but by a man with a dream who was willing to pursue it. And the sports venue that gives Tulsa the most positive publicity -- Southern Hills Country Club, privately built. And one of Tulsa's biggest tourist attractions is a college campus built by a man who has had many "visions" -- I refer to Oral Roberts and his university. Likewise most of Tulsa's art deco treasures. Committee-driven "visions" (whether developed by government or big business) tend to be bland, boring, least common denominator. But an individual or small group, willing to take risks in pursuit of a vision, is more likely to produce something bold and daring.

I especially like the comment about influential Tulsans moving downtown. One or two influential people could start a trend for downtown living, and as people with disposable incomes move in, the retail businesses and vitality will follow. Has anyone noticed the transformation of 15th Street from the BA to Harvard? These commercial buildings, fronting old U. S. 64, are slowly filling up with boutiques, where once they were empty or underused. There was no government program to make this happen, but Florence Park has become a fashionable neighborhood, and property values have rocketed. With wealthier people moving in, businesses catering to them have followed.

The point about raising architectural standards agrees nicely with a point made by Kevin Adams in the addendum to "Tulsa Time Blues": Base zoning on form, rather than use. What your building looks like has more impact on the value of your neighbor's property than what you do inside.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 7, 2003 8:21 PM.

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