While most of us would consider it a success to quickly and thoroughly eliminate any memory of our most unpleasant job, Mike Tedesco has found solace in sharing his experience of rolling about in the swill of municipal politics.
Rather than this retelling being a self-inflicted torture trip, Tedesco guides the reader through a rollercoaster ride of a story (not excluding the dizziness and puking!), plus he gives us a healthy dose of urban planning theory.
Tedesco recounts the grizzly details of his high expectations and the tragic reality of his first job as Community Development Director in a small Colorado town. Tedesco quickly introduces the reader to the “villain” – it won’t take much for the reader to put a face to this character. And Tedesco, the “hero,” invades the town to save it from itself. Unfortunately, we find it’s more of a job for a superhero armed with a golden lasso than for a city boy with a Masterbs in Urban Planning. Tedesco acknowledges that he’s not one to turn away from a fight; in fact he’s a magnet for them. But no amount of university education will prepare him for the need to balance the small battles with the Grande War.
City Boy just may be the least painful way of exposing yourself to the theories of urban planning. Tedesco makes it very easy to digest the past and current theories of land use policies. Tedesco also made me wonder if New Urbanism would be better titled “Retro Planning,” or maybe Disney has already perfected this type of community development?
Tedesco cynically writes about those that go in for this type of zoned planning, “With one hand they vote for anti-government Republicans, and with the other they willfully agree to live in a neighborhood that is tantamount to a socialist enclave.” It’s clear from City Boy that if Urban Planners could have a special seat in city government entitled “Guru of Sustainable Living Communities,” and officials were compelled by law to follow the Guru’s advice, then our communities would be much healthier places to live, grow, shop, and work.
Many readers will wonder in just what “backwoods” town our hero lived as he suffered through this story of woe. While all the names and places in the story have been changed, it’s not hard to find out that Tedesco’s first job was in South Fork. However, with much dismay many readers will identify their own community’s governance with that in City Boy: the tragedy that we can identify with.
City Boy has all the elements of a classic melodrama: hero, villain, greedy capitalists, city on the brink of disaster, and fair maiden. It makes you want to stand up, boo, hiss and cheer throughout. The question remains, does the villain meet her match? Or does the hero get saved by Pueblo, Colorado?
By Susan Fries: Executive Director of the Pueblo Performing Arts Guild, an avid traveler, bookworm, gardener, and cook.