Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Home Sweet Home

For the past few weeks I have been studying the demographics of my new home, Nashville,  and they were not good. I had a conversation with a lovely man at the plant store sharing with him some of my observations such as lack of infrastructure,  buses, sidewalks, grocery stores, departments stores, movie theaters along with small hardware stores (ACE which are quite urban) drugstores, dry cleaners and other amenities that make a downtown core a thriving diverse one.  This in addition to the weird historical references to "county" vs "county" and the sheer overall lack of education among the population which is in direct contradiction to the amount of Colleges in the area is quite telling about the people who move here and who stay here.

And then I ran into my neighbor at the local bakery and we were talking about our building and the new developments coming up, the rents, the train (which I am working on as my cause) the amount of units that we think are Air BnB's, her search for commercial properties or spaces where she could launch her business and the people coming here and how they afford these rents with such low educational levels it says they are not in high paying professions that require degrees and that the numbers are in fact either false or include those coming here for college and then leaving once the degree is attained as well as those here for some music career that doesn't pan out and other transient professions. We are not attracting nor retraining a highly educated and in turn compensated career populace that vest in the community and its overall growth.

And then I came home to this article in the Tennessean.  What the article does not mention is the sheer rundown appearance of public schools and how bad they are as they are often adjacent to large mega Churches that dot every street often two to three in a row.  And yet there are gorgeous vintage structures that are in historic registries, a library downtown that has to be seen to believe to see how great it is as ironically their neighborhood sties that are equally attractive and useful.  The gorgeous parks that are well cared for and the amazing geography that should serve this city in ways it has yet to do so.  In other words there is great potential and possibility all within reach.

I suspect that much of this is classicism first and then racism.  The idea of "protecting" what is mine is mine is prevalent, the large amount of private schools with money and the elite guarding the gates;  this is aligned with the idea that if you deserve it you must earn it, work hard and all that other faux meritocracy crap that is the mantra of the wealth also defines a great part of southern culture.  And in turn it is racist as it affects those of color the most by oppressing opportunities - such has having a decent public education system and accessible transportation - that enables those to thrive and rise above one's station in life.   Can't rise if you cannot thrive and be is intentional or subliminal it is clear that there are some antiquated concepts that are not helping this city thrive.

I have said that I don't think this is fixable.  It is decades away if then and once my reasons for staying are done, I am done.  I want to spend my 60s living where having a conversation is a challenge (and yes it was that in Seattle but for different reasons - the Tech Sector - thankyouverymuch)  and that is "So Nashville."

**after I wrote and posted this I went to a local neighborhood kitchen store for a new wooden spoon and milk steamer where I had shopped before but he was new and was hired by the owner to "build the business."  I said well read the Tennessean today they had what I thought was an accurate assessment over the problems Nashville face in order to move into the future and that the primary one was the lack of education and higher degrees by the populace.  It makes no sense to have a major capital with a population with less than 25% with higher degrees and that the state is 47 out of 50 with regards to higher education stats.  He informed me that he worked (as in past tense clearly)  in financial services and that his clients were the wealthiest people in the area and had no higher degrees. I asked how old they were and if they were long time residents who were older and had well established histories prior to the current economy which requires most entry level employees to have some college.  Well yes but then he reiterated that mantra which is all I needed to verify what I suspected, this is a State and City that places little emphasis on Education and that the "I worked hard" bullshit mantra that is heard repeatedly as some type of Ayn Rand tribute to the unicorn that today means "I will protect my family and mine and the rest of you can go fuck yourself."  I did not want to say to the dude, "well then why are you here at a 20 year kitchen store and are you making more here than at the the financial joint?"  I think I know the answer.  

Health, education, traffic woes threaten progress in booming Nashville
Jamie McGee ,
The Tennessean
 October 4, 2016

In a city full of doctors, hospitals and health care businesses, residents face higher chronic disease rates than the national average. Meanwhile, the percentage of those with academic credentials beyond a high school degree is lower than Nashville’s peer metropolitan cities, and the region's traffic woes are expected to double by 2040.

These data points help illustrate Middle Tennessee’s most critical issues that the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce policy officials wants local leaders to focus on, according to its 2016 Vital Signs report. In addition to health and education needs, transportation remains a key priority for the region.

The report’s creators make the case that each of these issues significantly impacts the local economy — in health care costs, loss of productivity, dwindling quality of life and jobs that cannot be filled because there is a shortage of skilled workers.

“These are all workforce development issues,” said Kristen Keely-Dinger, The Healing Trust executive vice president and a member of the Vital Signs team. “In an already tight labor market, if you do not have a healthy workforce, if you don’t have an educated workforce, if they can’t get to their places of employment, those all affect new employers wanting to move here.”

Solving traffic woes comes down to funding. Nashville leaders have been studying the issue and stressing the problem for several years, and the Regional Transit Authority's recently adopted a $6 billion transportation plan for within and around Nashville. Leaders have not determined how to fund the 25-year plan, but the report points out current funding relies on federal and state gas taxes, neither of which has been increased in more than two decades.

Peer cities that have spent more on transportation, not surprisingly, have lower rates of people driving alone and higher public transportation usage rates. In Nashville, where per capita spending on transportation is $107, only 1.3 percent use public transportation. Conversely, Denver, which spends $184 per person, has 4.5 percent usage rates.

Public support for increased spending on transportation is growing. Sixty-four percent of respondents to the chamber’s regional poll said they are supportive of dedicating taxes to expanding mass transit in Nashville. That’s up from 61 percent last year.

“We aren’t going into debt for our highway system so that means we are just doing maintenance and we have bridges that are crumbling,” said Michelle Lacewell, interim executive director of the Nashville Area Metro Planning Organization. "We have no debt, but our infrastructure is being threatened.”

Education goals lag

Postsecondary education has been a primary focus of the Vital Signs report for at least three consecutive years and has been prioritized by state officials as well. Gov. Bill Haslam rolled out higher-education programs Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect as part of his Drive to 55 initiative, launched in 2013. The goal is to have 55 percent of Tennesseans obtain a degree or credential by 2025, but based on progress made from 2010 to 2014, the state is significantly behind in meeting its target. Enrollment among adults, not just current secondary students, will need to be ramped up for the state to improve its trajectory.

While college-going rates improved in 14 of 15 regional counties since Tennessee Promise began, completion remains a significant hurdle. At two-year colleges in the Middle Tennessee area, including Nashville State Community College, on-time completion ranged from 12 percent to 22 percent in 2014. That has improved since 2010, when completion rates at the same schools ranged from 9 percent to 16 percent.

"They are getting students that aren’t ready," said Lucia Folk, a member of the Vital Signs team and CMT public affairs vice president. "That’s the place where remediation happens. They are spending a lot of their time getting students to basic reading and math levels before they can even get to the credentialing process."

Degrees are critical to employment and higher earnings, according to the report. A Nashville resident with a high school degree makes about $27,500 on average, compared to about $46,000 for college graduates. High school graduates have an unemployment rate of 8.5 percent, compared to 3.2 percent for college graduates.

Rising costs hinder health

Health is not only a quality of life issue, but also an economic one. Workers struggling with health are not as effective and the rising cost of health care hurts individuals and their employers. While the Nashville area exceeds the national average on access to and usage of primary care physicians, it maintains a prevalence of most chronic conditions, including hypertension, diabetes and depression.

"If it was just about health access, we would have the healthiest city on the country, and we don't," Keely-Dinger said.

By the Numbers:

Since 2010, 30,000 people have moved to Nashville region each year.
The amount of time residents spend in cars will double by 2040.
The last year the state raised the gas tax: 1989
Between 2009 and 2014, Nashville area poverty rates climbed to 15 percent from 13 percent

Nashville education attainment: Ages 25 – 64

Less than high school: 11 percent

High school graduate or equivalent: 28 percent

Some college: 21 percent

Associate degree: 7 percent

Bachelor’s degree: 33 percent

Graduate or professional degree: 11 percent

Earnings by educational attainment in Nashville:

Less than high school graduate: $19,602

High school graduate: $27,523

Some college or associate degree: $33,863

Bachelor’s degree: $46,167

On-time completion rate 2010 2012 2014

Nashville State Community College (2 years): 9% 10% 12%

Middle Tennessee State University (4 years): 46% 45% 45%

Tennessee State University (4 years): 34% 35% 42%

Attainment of an associate degree or higher:

Raleigh: 53 percent

Denver: 48 percent

Austin: 48 percent

Atlanta: 43 percent

Charlotte: 42 percent

Nashville: 40 percent

Transportation operations funding per capita:

Atlanta: $331

Austin: $187

Denver: $184

Charlotte: $115

Nashville: $107

Raleigh: $86


Percent who drove alone Percent who took public transit Per capita transit trips

Nashville: 82% 1.3% 9

Raleigh: 80% 1% 9

Atlanta: 77% 3.1% 29

Denver: 76% 4.5% 40

Austin: 77% 2.5% 23

Seattle: 69% 9.6% 48

Charlotte: 81% 1.9% 25

Chronic disease rates:

Asthma COPD Depression Diabetes Hypertension

U.S.: 3% 1% 4.3% 5.2% 12.4%

Nashville: 2.4% 1.1% 4.7% 6.2% 15%

Affordability ranking, from most to least affordable

72 Atlanta

112 Charlotte

120 Raleigh

128 Nashville

142 Austin

167 Denver

Median Housing Prices:

Denver: $394,400

Austin: $289,100

Raleigh: $258,800

Nashville: $227,000

Charlotte: $218,000

Atlanta: $192,000

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