Here’s an example of a neighborhood/city wide issue:
A few years back, a broad coalition of local folks, from the usual suspects in the environmental movement to outraged local home owners, came together to defeat a proposal that would have turned an abandoned rock quarry on the banks of the Harpeth River into a landfill for construction materials. That coalition started to pull together again, when the owner of a wooded property on the west side of Nashville proposed to turn it into a similar landfill. A record number of people attended a zoning hearing, somebody pointed out that, according to the planning commission’s own, probably optimistic estimates, the area won’t need another building materials landfill until 2018, and the developer and property owner decided to drop the idea. There was a massive sigh of relief.
This issue was discussed on the “Transition Nashville” elist, and prompted me to look at just what stopping a landfill has to do with “transition.” Here’s what I came up with:
The paradigm that we need to transition out of is the one that not only completely devalues used construction materials, deeming them only fit to be buried, but also places no value (or a tax liability) on land that is an undisrupted natural ecosystem, and insists that land only has “value” if it is being used to “make money,” which is why a landfill is better, in some people’s minds, than “undeveloped” woods. Destroying the natural world, of which we are an inextricable part, is like being paid to weave the rope and build the scaffold for our own hanging. Pays good–wanna sign up?
The paradigm we need to transition into is one that recognizes the wisdom, efficiency, and economy of natural systems and values finding the human place in that natural flow.