Editor's note: Big ideas make big conversations


There’s a big trial happening up the street, a so-called media event, but life is still going on all around us. It makes you stop and think a little bit about what the news is. Should we write stories because we know people will read them or because they won’t ever get read unless we write them?

I will say, regarding J. Tobias Beard’s coverage of the Huguely trial for our paper, that I’m enjoying reading it. Lots of people are lining up facts, arguments, chronologies, but a murder trial like this can only merit the attention it’s getting if it’s seen as a lens to examine how much blame society shares when a person does something terrible. Schadenfruede may be the draw, but it can’t be the takeaway.

We have two stories in the news section this week involving the way the city makes decisions about infrastructure and public spaces. The Belmont Bridge Design Competition story is an example of how community activists got creative about telling City Council they didn’t like its plans for a very important space. It’s also a story about how UVA’s School of Architecture owned its role in the community by leveraging its talent to influence a highly relevant public discourse. It’s not yet clear how the competition will impact the final plan for the Belmont Bridge, but it is abundantly clear that the city won’t want for ideas. Get down to CitySpace this week and judge for yourself.

The second planning story I want to mention involves the public input process for McIntire Park East, and it’s less encouraging to me. The discussion about what to do with that magnificent and barely-accessible city park feels like it’s devolving into another bickering match between stakeholder groups. Without delving too deeply into the contents of Federalist Paper #10, it’s hard to state succinctly the case for why we have to be careful with a passionate group of people that wants something particular. Instead, I’ll just quote Spanish architect Eduardo Arroyo, “We like our processes, but processes can also make very bad solutions.”—Giles Morris