The miracle of life
Yesterday we posted a link to this article in the Oregonian, about the news that the future Barbur Boulevard MAX line is now supposed to have a tunnel linking it to OHSU. Our breath was taken away by the sheer stupidity of it, but our friend Bill McDonald read carefully and thoughtfully. And he left a comment that is so perceptive that it deserves a post of its own. Indeed, it deserves a whole blog of its own. And so here it is:
Behold. This is the definitive "birth of a project" Oregonian article of all time. If Portland lasts 1,000 years, you will not see it done any better. This is like looking back at the primordial ooze of bureaucracy and witnessing the beginnings of life. The article doesn't just report on something -- it actually serves as an incubator, or a petri dish, while the new life form begins to grow.
In the beginning there is an idea -- and I think, right away, we can rule out intelligent design. A few paragraphs in and the idea has turned into a speck of dust. That's quite a description, isn't it? This signifies creation. A speck of dust is a huge leap from just an idea. It's come into existence. Remember, man, that thou art dust. It's biblical.
Next the selling begins as we slide into the happy talk: "A mosaic of planning efforts." That's beautiful. The planners created it and it was good. But there can be no light without darkness -- there can be no good without evil -- so we get a little uneasy feeling with the phrase, "determining first where the population growth and employment centers should be." Aren't we supposed to decide that?
Something has happened to the dust particle by now. It has floated in the swamp and is now coated with a rich layer of fertilizer. As it begins to get bigger, bureaucratic phrases like "long-term vision" and "cost-effective" start oozing out. My favorite? "The plan will dovetail." I like doves, don't you? They represent peace. The selling continues in earnest with a reminder of how great the zoo tunnel turned out to be.
Then the miracle of life happens. This idea that hadn't even turned into a speck of dust on a desk at the beginning of the article is now here. It has officially crawled out of the swamp and is now roaming the city. The Metro guy says, "It's in the mix." Congratulations, and welcome to Portland.
Naturally we have 18 months of studying before the final decision of what to do with it. That's standard -- it'll give our new life form time to grow strong and healthy, while the consultants nourish themselves on its nutrients.
More happy talk: 2 or 3 alternatives will be looked at, but the option of doing nothing -- that existed just a few paragraphs up -- is already gone: "The timeline calls for federal funding and construction between 2017 and 2023." That doesn't sound like more buses -- also mentioned as one of the options. Hmm, what's that leave? Light rail and the new creation? Tunnel vision anyone? We have a new life form and we already have a timeline for graduation day.
But what is it? What do you call it?
First, we get one last, little hint about what is coming with a comment about how intriguing the tunnel is and then it happens: "a working group has been formed to oversee the planning, and a community advisory committee will be formed soon to keep an eye on the project."
The project? It's not just in the mix anymore. It's not a speck of dust. It is not just an idea. We have just witnessed the birth of a project. Within this article you have seen the routine and somewhat dubious miracle of planners giving life. Now watch as the budget goes forth and multiplies.