Monday, October 31, 2011

Once upon a time...

I read a blog by Dan Conaway this week, who lives in Memphis and advocates for the use of New Urbanism principles within his community, which can be read by clicking on the title of this post. Conaway mentions Mixed Housing–having houses of different price ranges and size in closer proximity–as one of the principles he would like to see set in place. The problem is that, economically, the materialization of such concept is hardly feasible. If the neighborhood is a desirable place to live, the demand for it will increase, driving up the prices of the properties in the area. Give it enough time and the values of the many different houses will tend to not be so disparate.

He also argues that New Urbanism would bring more Sustainability to a community, and by that he means a low-impact development, eco-friendly technology, and energy efficiency. I would like to propose that there is little that is sustainable about these practices, as the recent happenings in California very well demonstrate. The push for these ideals have led many businesses to relocate their operations somewhere with lower taxes and fewer restrictions, taking the state's unemployment rate to the second highest in the nation.

The one thing Conaway says that I could see happening is Quality Architecture and Urban Design, if and only if this means that the government would remove restrictions on how buildings should look. An owner should be allowed to try whatever type of architecture he or she desires within his or her private property.

Finally, he argues that the concepts presented by New Urbanism proponents are ideal because they bring back the many wonderful things that modern society ruthlessly took away, like getting along with your neighbors, as if this was not an option within the framework of our modern world. The fact is that people organically developed and put in place the system we know today. An individual longing for deeper relationships with his or her neighbor can still take a step forward and put efforts into transforming a mere acquaintance into a friend, regardless of having a front yard or using a car as a main mode of transportation. Blaming society seems to have become the main way of justifying one's own complacency.

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