by Khalilah Jones
Apparently, when Whitney Houston (God rest her soul) sang in her lilting, mesmerizing way, “I believe the children are our future”, she was right! According to 2018 census projections, the future of our nation will be drastically impacted by the slow growth and aging of the white population and the rise of youthful minorities. The projected statistics indicate that by 2045 our nation will become “minority white”. These projections affirm the overall significance of racial minorities and the youth as the key demographic mechanism of this nation’s future development. With these projections for the future, in regard to planning for the future, it would be ideal to activate some intentionality in engaging a diverse cross section of the population, especially this “youthful minority”.
With that in mind, let’s talk about the Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan (AC44). The comprehensive plan is essentially the county’s dream for an equitable and resilient future community. Fun fact: the comprehensive plan is also called AC44, which stands for Albemarle County 2044, as this plan is slated to be in place until 2044. You can visit engage.albemarle.org/ac44 to get caught up on all things AC44.
Currently, the county is in phase 2 of the process. According to engage.albemarle.org, In “Phase One we used input from community members, County staff, the Planning Commission, and the Board of Supervisors to develop a guide for Phases Two and Three of the project. This guide, the Framework for an Equitable and Resilient Community, presents a snapshot of what the county aspires to be in the year 2044.
The planning team has designed a questionnaire to learn about your experience, priorities, and ideas in regard to:
- Community Facilities
- Economic Development
- Land Use
- Parks & Recreation
- Natural, Historic, Scenic, and Cultural Resources
According to the 2021 US Census Albemarle County quickfacts, 19.7% of Albemarle County residents are 65 or older. Similarly, 19.7% of the county are 18 or younger. Phase 2 survey results, so far, show that the older white community members are actively engaged and sharing their desires, priorities and vision for the future in Albemarle County. However, there is a sizable gap in representation for the younger minority generation. Based on census data, the looming “youthful minority” upturn indicates there should be a conscious effort to capture the priorities, aspirations and vision for the future of the youth here in Albemarle County. As hard as it is to believe, the decisions of today are shaping the future community for us, our grands and our current youth. Of course, these plans will be revisited and adjusted periodically to address updated projections and growth. Even so, an accurate portrayal of the community’s priorities and aspirations, should be considered at all points in the planning process. That means we need to hear from the under-represented.
The only way to ensure perpetuity and an equitable, resilient county, where you not only live, but THRIVE, is to get involved! Can we truly quantify the return on investment of spending 15-20 minutes of your time to complete a survey, when your future hangs in the balance? This is a call to action for people 24 or younger to share what their “dream” county looks like. Future planning is not a spectator’s sport, it isn’t a game at all. A game is an activity where people compete against one another. The comprehensive plan is quite literally the opportunity to work together to shape an equitable and resilient future for us all! If you have made it this far, head on over to craft your future HERE.