Take a look at this map. Over 40 percent of Norfolk is projected to be in high risk flood zones.
By the year 2100, around 5 to 15 percent of Norfolk will essentially be underwater.
I am not breaking news or wildly hypothesizing when I state that this entire city will not be saved.
Much of it will. But not all of it.
Some of the decision-making in terms of what does survive will be done for us — the federal government and mother nature are the highest powers at work here.
Much of the decision making it out of our hands. But not all of it. This city will have a hand — many hands, your hands — in its own fate. The majority of Norfolk should still be here in 100 years. Forget about what we lose for a moment; what do we do with what remains to most benefit the health and happiness of our descendants?
I have lived in Norfolk for 8 years now. During this time I have gotten to know the personality of the City of Norfolk quite well, and while I have my criticisms and concerns, there’s one thing I can say with confidence: they are listening to you. When discussing any issue, there is always great weight given to the citizen letters sent and the views of the nearby civic leagues.
The city is sitting there waiting, ready to listen. Are we speaking? When the time comes, are we shouting?
We bemoan the influence of money in national politics, a force that can feel insurmountable. In a way, it’s the opposite at the local level. In our cities, your voice — not your voice through your millions, but your actual, physical voice — matters so, so much.
“I’ve been here 5 years. This has been the most open civic engagement process I’ve seen us use,” said Norfolk’s city planner, George Homewood. “Hopefully we have shown a light on a better way of doing things through this process, and this becomes the model and the base. If I had my druthers, I would like to have 60, 70, 80 percent of the people (in Norfolk) participating. I want as many people participating as possible because it impacts each and every one of us.”
This Thursday, Thursday, August 18th at 6:00 pm at the Attucks the City of Norfolk is presenting their draft for what they think you have told them you want to see Norfolk look like in the year 2100. They’re going to ask us, did we get this right?
“If the answer is no, we will say okay, talk to us some more,” said Homewood. “Tell us what it is that we missed. Help us get it right. This is not the Planning Department, or the city; this has to be the vision of the citizens of the city, and citizens who will be here a lot longer than I am. I’m not going to be here in 2100. This is my grandkids and my great grandkids we’re doing this vision for.”
After the meeting at the Attucks, AltDaily is hosting a very informal happy hour at nearby Rip Rap Brewing on 25th Street for people to continue the conversation. The discussions where we educate and engage each other are every bit as important as the ones where we engage government directly.
As citizens of this city today we are charged to be the stewards of this city tomorrow. Your voice is needed.
For more on the Norfolk 2100 process and the event at the Attucks, click here.
For more on the NFK 2100 Happy Hour at Rip Rap, click here.