So I admit I’m a bit behind the feed ’cause I just got to read Steve Sebelius’ CityLife cover story from last week: We’re not a real city. After years of working with Steve, it’s not exactly news to me what his feelings are on the value of Vegas. He makes no bones about the fact that he misses Cali in a big way. (And yet you’re still here, Steve!) But I’m not sure that negates the larger point he argues — Las Vegas (and Nevada) sucks because we let it suck.
Sebelius makes a lot of good points along the way and I can’t deny that Las Vegas in particular and many aspects of Nevada as a whole have some real issues. Of course, I’ve chosen to go work for a non-partisan organization that strives to fix what’s broken. So that’s my bias. But it’s a big job. And for me the question is not whether or not there is work to do, but what are you going to do about it? Are we going to sit back, throw our hands in the air and do nothing? Or are we going to organize, take action, push pressure points and create the change we wish to see? It’s obvious what I’ve chosen to do, but it takes more than little ol’ me.
Fundamentally, I would argue that you can see with your own eyes that Las Vegas is a city. And maybe i”m just arguing semantics here. What Sebelius is really lamenting is that it’s not a nuanced and cultured city in the image of Chicago, New York, Austin or Portland, Ore. True. But just because it lacks doesn’t change that it is a city. I’m sure the residents of New Orleans as they struggle to rebuild still consider their space a city. Same for Oakland, Detroit, East St. Louis and many other communities around the country that are cities with real challenges.
And while we’re at it, why does Las Vegas or the city we wish it was have to look like any other city in the nation? Perhaps to tackle the troubles here we have to get creative, crib from what works in other places and define success on our own standards. Certainly, we have miles to go before we sleep. There are serious problems and there need to be serious solutions.
So, okay. Life and the city we live in didn’t turn out the way we expected. I would still say, so now what? Take your toys and go home? Or build a better leggo castle?