Fred, one of the Madison attendees, over on OrangePolitics said he didn’t like my suggestion, given the organizer’s professed desire to “build relationships” – establish “synergies” amongst the group, that, for a few folks, there was a bit more to the Madison trip than simple learning or altruistic desire.
Chamber of Commerce director and trip sponsor Aaron Nelson pegs it pretty well: “”You get to spend a lot more time with each other,” Nelson said. “And there’s something really important about the shared experience.”
“The second reason is to build relationships among our community leaders,” Nelson added. “The hope is that when you get back, and you have an issue you need help with, you can pick up the phone and call the guy you sat next to on the plane for four hours.”
Once again, as we see from today’s soon to evaporate HeraldSun, the “shared experience” (smoozing) was of driving importance to the organizers of this event.
Now, of course, other attendees have different primary goals: inclusionary zoning, how a university building a research park deals fairly and honestly with neighborhoods, downtown economic development – even panhandling.
Again, we have a great crew attending. I fully expect the time, effort and more than $100,000 spent on this trip to yield benefits for our community.
But let us not pretend that Aaron Nelson’s “phone call” isn’t part of the calculus of the Madison event.
Whether that “phone call” benefits the community, as I imagine one between Mike Collins of Neighborhoods for Responsible Growth (NRG) and UNC’s Chancellor Moeser might, or not, will be measured in time.