News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Future of Reston to Be Decided By Lego Playdate

lego-block.jpgHow on earth did we manage to miss this? The most recent meeting of the Reston Master Plan Task Force With an Unpronounceable Acronym (§) involved playing with Legos. No, really. They called it a "Lego exercise" to make it sound all official, but apparently that's what they did. Here's the account from Dick Stillson, a duly appointed representative of the Reston 2020 committee:

The meeting was in three main parts; one, a report on each of the committees and a vote to establish the new "vision" committee; two, a report from the consultants from the George Masion School of Public Policy on projections through 2050 on jobs and households in the Dulles Corridor, and three, playing with Lego blocks to... well do something but I'm not sure what. (I'll bet that our grandson Gavin -- almost 8 years old -- is much better at playing with Legos than the Task Force members.)
The mind boggles... did task force members build fancy scale models of the Wiehle Metro development and shine a flashlight to see how much light made it down to the canyon "civic plaza?" Did they create armies of developers and NIMBYs and make them fight on a futuristic battlefield of strewn Lego blocks, symbolizing the razed Fairway apartments and Macaroni Grill? Or, in the true spirit of Reston, did they simply collect all the bricks that were bright primary colors and throw them in the trash, leaving only beige bricks for future generations of task force members to play with?

We don't have an answer to these questions. But we do have an exclusive video excerpt from the task force's "Lego exercise:"


  1. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonJune 30, 2010 at 8:55 PM

    Good one, Restonian -- your take on the Lego exercise should make the all-time top 10 list.

    Dick Stillson mentions in his report a study done by a group from George Mason about projected job and population growth in the Dulles Corridor, from Wiehle Avenue to Rt. 28, that looked ahead 40 years to 2050. Before everyone gets their knickers in a knot, as our cousins across the pond would say, about those job and growth projections, it's worth reading the cautionary note that's the last part of Stillson's report. Note that Stillson has been an economist for 30 years, 25 of them at the IMF.

    "I think that modeling demand in the area for 40 years is a useless exercise...The only thing one can be sure about 40 years in the future is that it will be very different from now, or from the past. Maybe playing with Legos would give a better answer - it would be at least as good.

  2. Thank God for Legos -- I just realized what the ACTUAL master plan for Reston was supposed to be. By completely harmonizing our dwellings to neutral colors, the nature surrounding us on our trails and green spaces can be seen in all its real beauty.

    And by requiring a certain percentage of subsidized housing in each new development, we will all become one big happy rainbow of colors to stand out against our DRB drab dwelling colors. Oh, no. . . wait . . .

    That means actually welcoming the Section 8 housing as a good thing...perhaps we all need to play Legos together more often?

  3. In the military they call it the "sandbox"... where yes, they move little toys around ... but it works. It's known as data visualization... it helps people conceptualize...

    And yes, regarding economic modeling -- the best IMF models in 2007 predicted the world economy would grow and "financial risk" was on the decline...

    go figure...

  4. They should have used Duplo blocks. They're larger so that small minds with big hands and age-related manual dexterity issues don't have to fumble around. Plus, you can get a better appreciation of scale when that 50 story skyscraper actually comes up to your chin instead of your crotch. Besides, when the play date tends towards over-zealousness, the Duplo blocks have just enough mass that, when heaved, can really drive your point home. Legos just don't have enough mass to travel more than a couple of feet and don't convert their potential energy into truly attention-getting kinetic energy as well.