The Quality of Life section of the Heartland Visioning draft plan starts with the following vision:
Shawnee County will be a safe and caring community with vibrant arts, cultural entertainment and recreational activity and caring for all.
Who can argue with that? I mean, I think it’s safe to say that everyone wants to raise their family in a safe, caring community that has access to entertainment and recreational activities of all types. It provides options for a wide range of experiences without having to travel out of town, and allows opportunities to get involved in teams/clubs/groups that support these activities.
From there, the Visioning draft breaks the quality of life priority into seven categories, with multiple strategies in each category. As many of my fellow Transform Topeka peers before me said, these are just a list of possible strategies. It’s not an all-or-nothing type of deal. In fact, it’s probably unreasonable to think that we’ll be able to enact each and every strategy in the next five years.
Here’s some highlights that I’ve pulled from the draft and put into my own words. Please feel free to agree or disagree with them, or to offer your own thoughts on what I may have overlooked.
1. Recreation, Arts & Culture – Develop and implement a master plan for entertainment in the Capital City that would include: a central Downtown entertainment district where people can gather and hang out; additional support for ARTsConnect so they can continue to cultivate and fund artistic endeavors of all types (musical, fine arts, performance); and expanding trail systems for walking, jogging and cycling.
2. Healthcare – Provide affordable, quality healthcare for all Shawnee County residents by creating opportunities for small business owners and students to qualify for group insurance, thus reducing their rates.
3. Sense of Community and Image – Commit as a community to have a positive image and outlook for Topeka/Shawnee Couty. If every citizen can make up their minds to do just that, we’ll greatly improve the overall quality of life in Topeka without lifting a finger to do anything else. Then the rest of the pieces will fall in place.
4. Social Services – Expand volunteerism. It’s simply stated, but I understand the power of volunteer work and how it can expose people to other walks of life, causing a paradigm change. If we could get every Shawnee County citizen to give back with their money or their time, most of the other strategies under Social Services would take care of themselves.
5. Family & Youth – Encourage employers to provide family-friendly work environments that benefits families of all types.
6. Public Safety – Reduce crime, maintain building code requirements that enhance and promote safety and create comprehensive plans for disaster and emergency preparedness.
7. Eldery – Integrate the older population back into the community by offering mentoring opportunities for them to teach the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired to younger generations. It will greatly benefit both generations.
To read more about the Heartland Visioning draft’s section about Quality of Life, click here.