Lawrence is growing. That's a fact.
The question is what we, as residents, can do about it. How will it affect us? And what's in it for each of us?
Through a yearlong project, the Journal-World, 6News and J-W Online hope to provide a means to help all Lawrence residents begin finding answers to such questions. The project was deemed worthy of a grant from the Pew Center for Civic Journalism to help finance the work.
As the Bert Nash Mental Health Center Community Summit showed thousands of us this weekend, just getting together and discussing the situation is a good start.
Now, we want to provide a forum to build on that start and broaden our community's discussion about growth, to include voices not usually heard, and, we hope, help build a stronger community.
This approach is a new one for most of us. As journalists, we generally cover growth as an episodic story as new developments and issues arise. Unfortunately, such coverage typically finds the subject labeled "progrowth" vs. "no-growth."
Because the issues are usually more complex than that, we hope to change the nature of the conversation. Otherwise, our community will neither be able to avoid missteps nor take advantage of opportunities its healthy and growing economy can offer.
We have the opportunity, and the obligation, as a newspaper and a community, to step back and consider the big picture. To do this, we want to reach beyond the institutions and the leaders whose voices are so often reflected in our pages and our newscasts.
We hope to reach the people whose lives are affected by the decisions made: the residents and citizens who pay the bills, who drive the streets, who frequent the stores, who deal every day with the results good or bad.
In "Lawrence is Growing: What's in it for me?" we will be talking to all sorts of people students, environmentalists, natives, newcomers and many others who have stakes in how Lawrence grows.
Over the next year, we will convene public forums, roundtable discussions, conduct polls and focus groups to find out what the whole community thinks is important.
We'll report on transportation, development, schools, recreation, and whatever other topics you, as members of the community, tell us to focus on.
Our work is not intended to be progrowth or antigrowth. As our project's title says, "Lawrence is growing." This effort is intended to help us all make more informed decisions about the shape it takes.
We hope your voice will inform the changes ahead.
Send your comments and ideas for the project to Richard Brack, managing editor, Lawrence Journal-World, P.O. Box 888, Lawrence, 66044. You may e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.