If it’s not in the dictionary, did it still happen?

I spent much of today at a Cherryland “charette” attended by a couple hundred residents of the unincorporated communities most conveniently known as the Eden Area, which in this case (but not all cases) includes Castro Valley.

edenstudyareainsert1.jpgThe unincorporated areas are confusing enough already, as people who live there will tell you. But no sooner did I file my story when a copy editor called me up and said, “Hey, what is a charette? It’s not in the dictionary.”

And no, it is not in our dictionary. But it is in some others. The exercise had some of the atmosphere of the town meetings I’ve witnessed in New England. The big difference is that while a true town meeting turns the local citizenry into lawmakers, Cherryland’s charette electorate made symbolic votes and now will have to hope the real lawmakers listen to their non-binding suggestions.

But anyway, there was a charette and lots of people voted for lots of different things and here, in a HayWord exclusive, is the list of everything they voted for:

1. Community center in Cherryland (95 votes)
2. Changing the Alameda County Planning Commission representation to reflect unincorporated communities (90 votes)
3. School and neighborhood-based violence prevention and injury reduction project (81 votes)
4. Improve government accountability (78 votes)
5. Teen center in Ashland (72 votes)
6. Public schools improvement project (70 votes)
7. Create “community manager” position for the unincorporated areas (68 votes)
8. Health center (66 votes)
9. San Lorenzo Library expansion and improvement (56 votes)
10. Immigration community integration project (51 votes)
11. Streetscape improvement project (41 votes)
12. Code enforcement and blight elimination program (38 votes)
13. Greenscape improvement project (35 votes)
14. Neighborhood-based municipal advisory councils (32 votes)
15. Mobile health van (31 votes)
16. Community-friendly business development
17. Improved coordination of services (25 votes)
18. Senior health services (24 votes)
19. Community design review board (19 votes)
20. Public health element in general plans (16 votes)
21. Improving public transportation access to health care (13 votes)
22. Lifelong learning programs at existing facilities (10 votes)
23. Community empowerment and civic involvement (9 votes)
24. Partnership and collaboration across service providers (8 votes)

Only the top five go into the next round (though some others, like the San Lorenzo Library expansion, are already in the planning stages anyway), which basically means they become pressure points that county supervisors will have to accomplish or face the wrath of unincorporated residents – or at least the wrath of those who spent several hours at today’s meeting.

For more on what those 24 proposals actually mean, see more detailed descriptions in this PDF.

If you went to the charette or even if you didn’t, let us know what you think!