That Which Does Not Kill Us

Honestly, this blog is about positive ideas. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t catch what was happening in our own backyard.

Or yards, rather. This piece that made the urbanist rounds today describes the laughable-if-it-wasn’t-true scenario of two houses in East Orlando with adjacent backyards. Hardly newsworthy, except someone figured out the drive from front door A to front door B would take at least seven miles.

2013-03-05 21.45.04

A quick aghast reaction is expected, but let’s do a little examination. Every creation was at one point a solution. The way this land was divided, the layout of these arterial roads (which the blog points out are often the most dangerous) made sense to developers and to the city and to the residents who bought these homes for some reason. Such Euclidian zoning, such single-family thinking debatably reduces crime and leads to less toxic lifestyles than those found in inner cities. After all, how often does one really need to drive to their neighbor’s house?

But it is an absolute waste to make land so close so far away. The land and gas and pavement and pedestrian opportunities are wasted when we commit solely to car-based infrastructure. We put food and power and community out of reach. We … Well, this is all too documented for me to go into here. And while it would be hard to find someone who couldn’t recognize the drawbacks to total vehicle dependency, expediency won out. It tends to do that a lot.

On we go, marking up one more ecological casualty. No one expects this kind of development to go on forever. Or for a hundred years. Or for fifty years. But, we say, it can still go on for this year. And the next. Maybe a decade? These scars have not killed us yet, so we fall prey to the axiom that somehow, they make us stronger.

Yes, this might seem a bit grandiose to take on right here right now, but I’m trying to introduce what’s coming from us, so please bear with me for this one.

Conversation is the key to slowing down the engines of expediency. The spread of information leads to the generally better decisions for all involved. That’s where ReThinking the City comes in. There’s nothing grandiose in saying that connecting audiences with ideas can change the way things are done. These concepts are both challenges to be accepted and plans to be challenged themselves. This show – in radio form, in live form, on this blog, however you find it – is a dialogue on getting beyond expediency to actual strength.

Or maybe strength isn’t really what we should be after. Maybe we should work toward vitality and sustainability. Maybe the question we should ask isn’t “Does it kill us?” but “Does it help us live?”

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