Sinking into Mediocrity

Apparently, those of us who live in Indianapolis only focus on the city–and what we’d like to see it become–every four years, during mayoral elections. If then.

Whatever one might think about the “visions” displayed by the current candidates, it occurs to me that those of us who call Indianapolis home need to develop some vision of our own.

What brought this to mind was a recent magazine article in “Travel and Leisure.” It was one of those “our readers vote” features–which five cities did readers choose in several categories, including best food, friendliest, cleanest, etc.

We didn’t make any¬†of the lists.

This wasn’t scientific. I get that. But what exercises of this sort do reveal is which cities the respondents find memorable–which cities come to mind when asked such questions. Indianapolis obviously didn’t come to mind for most people. (We used to be widely cited for our friendliness and cleanliness, at least, if not for our food or architecture or arts scene. Now we don’t even make the list of clean cities.)

I realize that the ideal city for one person is very different from the ideal of another. But over the past decade or so, we seem to have settled for mediocre. Or worse. We “can’t afford” decent public transportation. We “can’t afford” to sweep streets in the mile square daily, as we used to do. We “can’t afford” first-rate schools. We “can’t afford” to maintain our parks. We can’t even afford to hire enough police officers. The only things we seem able to afford are sports venues.

Sorry, sports fans, but a couple of arenas simply cannot and will not create a great city. Or even a memorable one.