The City Council is still pondering projects for the epic renewal of the Vision 2025 process- an item that will require a vote- a voter referendum originally scheduled for April, but now in question. I wish the Council would take another look at a passel of Tulsa North tourism centric projects it may have rejected prematurely, and I’d like much more than is currently slated for parks and transit. And here is a biggie- I wish the Council/Mayor would remove the “public safety” piece that simply doesn’t belong in this critical renewal effort because it vastly complicates the whole package and squeezes out stout, city shaping projects with authentic visionary content.
I also have huge reservations about the out sized funding marked for dam projects: where exactly are the economic or social returns spawned by these investments? Why not look at a “re wilding” initiative on the river corridor – one that optimizes the Gathering Place project and Tulsa’s peerless trail system and the natural assets that make this huge segment singular.
I also request that our elected officials keep the hugely important 36th Street Henderson/GKFF Industrial Park. And I urgently request the Council/Mayor to back up and fund the breakout jobs/next wave industrial development project at the near north Evans Fin Tube site- called RAW Space.
Here is why:
Some of us hunger for imaginative efforts that can bring jobs to near north Tulsa, mid town and beyond- gambits that can change the sterile, dysfunctional bifurcation we draw up to separate “labor” from “professional” posts or so called blue collar vs white collar work. Scott Philips and his Tulsa collaborators want to morph the much talked about, not much employed, Evans Fintube site into a grand project that might re-animate part of Tulsa North and significantly spark T- Town’s industrial spine.
Young black and Hispanic kids are especially in need of rad opportunities that reward hard work and ingenuity – independent of advanced training or college- jobs that look more like the well-paying industrial gigs of yesteryear than the low paying, often empty burger flipping work that is all too common. More generally, Green Country desperately needs pacesetting, high yield projects that look, smell and embrace the American future- efforts that can help us re-conceive, re claim our pole setting achievements in aviation, construction, civil engineering, industrial design, energy/environment and a passel of emerging realms that are just over the horizon.
The truth is we can leapfrog other communities in their realms – we could fund local efforts – gambits that could help us ramp up to a revolutionary path that will soon shape the way we design, build and make almost everything of any consequence. And this meta trend could re-empower a new kind of local entrepreneur and, as important, a huge range of T-Town workers – who, if the still emerging evidence is any indication, can command excellent wages. They are all players, frontline parties to the emerging “maker economy”. It’s a bracing, transformative era where wildly different tactics for making and building things, and the services, customer outreach and vastly different educations required to do well – get radically democratized. Imagine a factory- a tiny one that can do the work of facilities with huge footprints and thousands of workers- but with a small acreage and dozens of workers and robot combos – imagine a dozen such operations.
Imagine a crew of two or three people who could orchestrate the construction of a new house in a day or so with giant 3D printers and drone bots. Envision a co-op cadre of 20 or 30 workers who can build electric vehicles here in town without using off shore sourcing or a GM like production facility. Imagine a shoe shop that can craft thousands of varieties of shoes at a single site using a crew of dozens- all in Tulsa. Conjure a micro plant that can build ultra lite aircraft one week and next wave, highly customized bicycles the next month- we already have the people in Tulsa who could do many of these things- but they don’t have the novel tools, production spaces and uber talented support staffs needed to execute. Interestingly, in spots like Pier 9 in San Francisco, these frankly revolutionary efforts are already in play- doesn’t Tulsa need to respond?
The cluster of production, design technologies and agile machines needed to make this leap forward are incorporated in Tulsa’s proposed RAW Space project- a fabulous, augmented manufacturing/3D maker “villa” that could eventually reshape the fate of hundreds of firms and thousands of workers here in T-Town by using a co-op like model. “RAW” has national implications – it could demonstrate a novel regime by harnessing, for hard pressed industrial players, tiny firms and very lean art/creative/design studios, the capacity to build and competitively price complex products – using design strategies, tool arrays, computing power and a bevy of methods previously available only to gigantic outfits.
“RAW” is the kind of breakout, next wave job spawning project that we badly need in Tulsa.
Editor’s Note: The views expressed on this web site are those of our contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policy of Bill Leighty, Smart Growth Tulsa Trustees, Advisory Board, or our affiliate member organizations unless specifically stated.