In the good old days people walked everywhere, rode a bicycle when needed, or hopped on a bus or train to get to distant destinations. It was a simple, balanced transportation system that everyone used. And then the automobile was introduced into this mix, the simpleness of this system was undone by the weight of the automobile’s convenience, independence and limitless parameters. But, so were our waistlines, our health, our socialness, our green environment and our economic sustainability.
Sue Harrison, Senior Planner and Jeff Hill, Director of Engineering, describe the Town of Fishers. Easy connections, alternative transportation, and livability are the challenges this town is tackling and successfully achieving.
In the good old days, everyone shopped at the same local grocery, clothing and hardware store and they knew all of their neighbors. They played in the same park, rubbed elbows at the local watering hole and waved, clapped and saluted “our” community in the local parade. They shared in personal achievement, collectively mourned a loss and came together “for the good of all” when that perception of the American Dream was threatened. Then the mass exoduses to the suburbs vacated established neighborhoods; big-box development over ran Mom & Pop’s livelihood; our lives speeded into an unchartered dimension of chaos; and a pervasive feeling of disconnect from OUR own “Good Old Days” left a void in our hearts. Our lifestyles had changed again.
In the good old days, the American Dream was about home ownership, upward mobility and unlimited opportunity for personal achievement through hard work. It was an evolution of the original statements in the US Declaration of Independence, which stated that “all men were created equal” and each individual owned “unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” But the recent Great Recession; the life-changing technological advances in how we communicate with each other; and, dare I say, a new found reverence for the limitations of the natural world and its peoples has once again changed the meaning of the American Dream.
While Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) are now at a time in their lives to reflect on their achievement of the American Dream, the Millennial Generation (born 1980-2000) is defining their Dream. Their dream focuses on day-to-day control of their lives and includes “Friends” in their inner most family. Self-employment, job mobility, flexibility in schedules and travel are defining their new lifestyle.
In the Town of Fishers, Indiana the good old days AND the present AND future good days are being embraced by town planners in a vision for the town that consistently wins national recognition for being a best place to live, raise a family and retire.
The planners of the town of Fishers recognize this changing American Dream and are using it as a guide for their visionary plan to sustain Fishers into the future socially, economically, and naturally. The 2010 US Census data reveals the present and future of the town in that the population of Fishers consists of almost one-half Millennial-aged residents and another one-fourth recognized as Baby Boomers. The plan adds destinations and connectivity to build a community for all.
Their strategy includes establishing an identity through the historic Nickel Plate Railroad brand including the trail, district and art; a coming together so to speak that:
1. Connects the past to the future;
2. Unifies the people and commercial enterprises into a community and
3. Culturally enlightens both residents and visitors.
The destinations that Fishers invites people to enjoy are also about getting away----from everyday life in their parks and green spaces:
To be refreshed by breathing fresh air newly moistened by dew drops;
To be restored by the feel of a cool breeze in the shade of the first residents of area---the trees;
To be re-inspired by the music of the rustling leaves, chirps of the birds, and the calls of the “wilds,”
To be re-invigorated by the deep smell of the soil generated by ages of continuous seasons of life and death;
To recreate one’s self by reconnecting to nature.
A town or city can have glorious places to go, fascinating cultural sites, and unique spaces to discover but without a way to easily and economically access them, the death knell of failure is waiting to be heard. This is not going to happen in Fishers. The town has an easy connection to the Interstate Transportation System and a robust thoroughfare plan that enables car-centric accessibility. Even better though is the expanding system of sidewalks, shared paths and trails enabling “everyone” of all ages and lifestyles to experience and live in the town with alternative access to services, attractions and recreation.
Adding to these connectivity amenities is a unique feature that within the nine county regional center of Indiana, only Fishers can claim---an active rail line connecting to Indianapolis. Rather than an abandoned rail corridor converted to a non-motorized transportation and recreation trail; The Nickel Plate Rail line allows several possibilities for future regional commuter transportation that include rail, light-rail (LRT) and bus rapid transportation (BRT).
The Town of Fishers has the vision, a mixed populace, amenities, destinations and a connectivity plan that will sustain the town into the future regardless of what the definition of the American Dream is. They have my VOTE!