Scenario Planning, Cartoon Style

With news of Metro’s expanded Route 1, impending streetcar system, near-completion of the tallest skyscraper in the city, and the Banks development finally underway, what more is there to shoot for in Cincinnati?  A lot, according to Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist for the Enquirer, Jim Borgman.  In 2002, he painted a very radical image of the near future:

“Suddenly everyone began streaming into the center city. Urban planners described it as the ‘donut-hole phenomenon.’  The hotels filled to capacity as thousands of outsiders parked their SUVs and rode the Metro into the vibrancy of the urban maelstrom. ‘There was nothing left on the outer rings but stale crumbs,’ explained a Downtown consultant.

Overnight, the inner city experienced a renaissance of retail, recreation andresidency. Soon the lights were blinking out in shopping malls all around the beltway.

Strong-Mayor-For-Life Charlie Luken spent three days a week cutting ribbons at newly constructed high-rise homesteads, for which developers paid the city he fees for building rights. During much of the rest of the week, the mayor could be found on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Riverside Links – 18 holes of verdant perfection that hooked and sliced around the homes and businesses of the Banks.

Casino boats from Indiana steamed upriver, attempting to lure passengers on board at Cincinnati’s Public Landing with offers of free rides and chips. There were few takers. ‘Why bet on a long shot in Lawrenceburg when you’ve got a sure thing in Downtown Cincinnati?’ asked one satisfied resident as she walked her Lhassa apso across the newly restored doggie green in Lytle Park.

Once the ordinance passed that prohibited automobiles from coming any closer in than the I-275 beltway, the skies cleared over the center city and D.C. (Downtown Cincinnati) became an international destination for health enthusiasts. ‘I come to bathe in the balm of the Ohio,’ said a tourist from Tokyo, as he stood beneath the outstretched arms of the Genius of the Waters. The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Beach Patrol had to put on extra deputies during the warm weekends of summer when pilgrims seeking the rivers city’s reputed healing affects would line up for immersions along the Serpentine Wall.

Eventually the fortunate residents of Downtown began to complain at the injustice of having to pay subsidies to support the far-flung, fading suburbs. ‘I’m afraid to drive out there at night,’ was one common complaint. ‘It’s eerily quiet and there are no lights to guide you but the stars and fireflies.’ Others complained that the cost of maintaining miles of highways to far off points like Montgomery, Mason and Greater Deerfield Township, should be born by those who chose to live so far away from the comforting cluster of downtown humanity.

The City’s Motto: ‘Why leave Downtown? Everything you could ever want is right here!'”

4 Responses to “Scenario Planning, Cartoon Style”
  1. Nate Strieter says:

    I appreciate the post’s message. Going even further, it would be great to get YAIF to incite some of Borgman’s “predictions” and bring in our own ideas for Downtown. To use this group to its full potential it is important to share ideas between us, drawing our own visions, improving Metro’s and the Streetcar’s bad graphics, bringing new visions of phase two Banks towers, etc. During this recession our role should be dialoguing with each other and the rest of the city through our visualization talents.

    In short: I believe that this blog might be the best thing YAIF Cincy has done so far. Yet, it can be used for much more.

    The best thing that we can do is to challenge each other to improve our design skills, our ideas, and our portfolios as we ride out this recession. We can do the above by improving what we have in common: our city. This means using Cincinnati as a lab for our ideas and constructions. This is an ACTIVE process, it means realizing small volunteer projects (hey we have the time), it means iterative or exchanged drawing sessions, and it means miniature speculative compeitions.
    I challenge YAIF to start any and all of the above to provoke its membership to stay creative to stay progressive, to improve their portfolios, and their hireablibilty.

  2. Nathan Strieter says:

    N.M- Funny challenge. I came. I sat through a number of early meetings. Towards the beginning of this adventure I suggested similar points. At the time there was a different focus, there was nothing wrong with that focus and I tried to contribute to it. It seems to me that the problem has arisen that YAIF began to think we could only do one thing at a time.
    I have actually left Cincinnati. I am in the process of finding a job elsewhere, and for now I am bumming with family in Charleston.
    I have spent over a decade including my architectural education in Cincy, and I will be back, and I would plan to continue to give back to the city via this group and others to which I still feel I have connection.
    That is the weird thing about Cincy, it has such great and beautiful potential that rarely gets realized. The city as it is, is nice- but as an architect passing through the city is beautiful because you can imagine that potential realized, and dont see what is there but what should be there.

  3. Nate Strieter says:

    N.M.- I have come. I have also previously shared my thoughts. I respect and like to think I am friendly with those who founded this group.
    I merely believe that the group may have gotten a bit singularly focused, and that it needs to stretch its wings.

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