walking audit ethan standard

Ethan Standard of Wellmark speaks during the recent walking audit along Lincoln Street (Highway 14).

I was perusing Facebook this past week and came across two of our local media outlets reporting on the recently held walking audit, which included information regarding a Traffic Engineering Assistance Program (TEAP) study from 2015. This report reviews several traffic concerns and identifies traffic related needs in the community.

I wasn’t surprised by either of these points, as I was fortunate to attend the audit and have inquired in the past to city staff regarding plans for Highway 14. Unfortunately, what was also very unsurprising was the barrage of negative comments that followed on social media.

As with most reports about city happenings, the vast majority of the comments were excessively negative and presumably those hitting the keys didn’t take the time to read the content of the initial post. One after another posts and remarks were made up of little substance other than complaints, whines, “I want,” “I need,” “instead we should have”… you get the picture.

My initial thought was not very charitable at all towards this angry cyber horde. So what accomplishment I am congratulating the complainers of Knoxville for?


Because that is what all the whining and petulant rants have accomplished — absolutely nothing.

Actually that is not true, the negativity does accomplish something, and sadly it is nothing productive and only undermines the hard work that so many residents of Knoxville are doing. I recently had the opportunity to work with city staff on a few grant proposals for Young’s Park. Within one proposal, the following was written:

In recent years Knoxville has entered into a season of renewal and transformation. Community leaders have identified a solid vision for the future and have developed strategic plans creating a call to action that has reverberated throughout the community. Key stakeholders, employers, volunteers and the average citizen have become impassioned to see projects through with an end goal of a happy, healthy, safe and thriving community. As a result of these efforts Knoxville has experienced exciting successes in recent years including renovation and re-opening of the Grand Theater, completion of the downtown streetscape project, Knoxville Public Library expansion, Knoxville Trail project expansion, construction of the Knoxville Performing Arts Center (KPAC) and the opening of numerous restaurants and drinking establishments. Construction of new amenities is not the only foundational change occurring in this community, residents are developing a service-oriented culture and sense of community that will serve as the underpinnings of sustaining a vibrant and revitalized city.

This information wasn’t included in the grant proposal to simply garner funding. It was included because it is the truth of our community. We have great things happening here and we have great people here.

Why do we need to work at cross-purposes?

Since I’m a believer in second chances, I reluctantly decided to read the comments again. This time I didn’t skim through the posts and make snap judgments or snarky internal remarks. I wondered if all of these people would get off of Facebook and get to a council meeting, volunteer, join one of the many civic or faith-based organizations that are doing amazing things in this town, what would that impact be?

It could have the potential to be amazing. We can do better together, all working for a positive good rather than figuratively tearing down our community. The repeated bashing of Knoxville is beyond me. What purpose does that serve? Do people really think that it will magically make our community change for the better to spew garbage into the ether and, voila, your every wish has been granted?

It seems to me that we as a community should be standing together to promulgate the values we want our community to stand for. Get informed. Get involved. Everyone has something to contribute.

Knoxville, what do you want to stand for?

Rachel Cecil, assistant director of the Marion County Health Department, is a participant in the Wellness Coalition. She and her husband, Mike, have two young sons.


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