I believe that we, the citizens of Dunwoody, are at a tipping point. It is a point that we will look back at in time and say that we were very fortunate to have men and women who saw life-changing events coming and prepared us for the shock wave to follow.
Whether people realize it or not, Dunwoody is a very vulnerable community. Very few of our police force live in the city itself. One thing we learned from hurricane Katrina’s strike on New Orleans was that law enforcement doesn't report to work when their homes and families are at also risk. As Mayor, I would offer incentives to get my entire force, including the chief as residents of Dunwoody.
Next, I would recruit all the retired law enforcement personnel in the city, as well as retired military personnel, to form a police department reserve corp. The purpose of this volunteer organization would be to help support the primary corp. of officers during special events or times of crisis such as natural disasters. This reserve corp. would also have a unit of volunteer EMS personnel who could help with times of crisis.
Thirdly, and most importantly, Dunwoody is far to dependant on the automobile. Why is this so important? Because I believe the era of cheap fossil fuels is ending soon. Perhaps by the end of 2012, you can expect to see $5.00 a gallon gasoline on a permanent basis. Some well respected oil and gas experts say that $300 per barrel oil by 2020 is not out of the question. That wholesale price would equate to $10 a gallon gasoline easily. Given that most food in our grocery stores travels 1500 miles from manufacturing to store shelf, the cost of food is going to get very expensive.
If we, as a community, are to weather this storm our next leaders need to have a vision of preparedness not currently prioritized by our city council. To me, this means more community gardens and most importantly a "Victory Garden” in everyone’s backyard; for those of you to young to remember, a victory garden was a term used during the World War II to refer to growing you own fruits and vegetables in your own home garden. The production of food closer to home will lessen the tremendous burden high energy costs will place on our community. Victory gardens will enable us to survive tough times and help us to maintain our dignity and pride as a community.
Finally, I believe our leaders must not only have a vision for Dunwoody but must be able to pass this vision to the next generation. By that I mean education. Each and every child needs to be educated in the skills of sustainability: how to grow food, how to use resources more efficiently, how to develop new sources of renewable energy which will replace fossil fuels.
I would, as Mayor, look to develop Brook Run as 1) as a Center for Sustainability where food production, energy production and healthy environmental practices are not only taught, but lived on a daily basis. 2) I also believe that true wealth in a community comes from entrepreneurship. Teaching our children to be the businessmen and women of tomorrow will pay huge dividends to our community’s future. I would advocate using part of Brook Run to develop a Center for Entrepreneurship; a “Junior Achievement” incubator for all our children to learn how to run a business and to invest capital wisely.
In the final analysis, ideas matter. Who you elect to represent you in government matters. Far too often we have elected people who are our friends and neighbors, but have little or no vision or leadership skills. They show up for all the meetings and act concerned, but have no solutions to offer, only distain that other politicians can’t do their job properly. Demand more from your leaders; make them be more than caretakers while in office. Your life might just depend on it someday soon.
James “Jamie” Sibold