Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Scars upon the land


More scars upon the land: a tradeoff

In the 1980s the heavy metal band, Cinderella performed a ballad entitled “(you) don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone”.  They were talking about a jilted love affair.

That phrase has stayed with me—as have lots of phrases from music—it is amazing how many good sayings have come from songs, but that is another topic. So, today as I was traveling to the store, I noticed that an old farm was in the process of becoming a suburban neighborhood. Trees had been cleared, and the undulating ground straightened, leaving only a flat open field. New traffic lights had been installed, and a new sign, with a cute little girl beckoning prospective residents to consider moving into a new subdivision—with all the modern conveniences.

I used to enjoy driving along that patch of road. There was wildness to it, for though we live on the edge of a burgeoning city, this area has a small town, even bucolic feel about it. Cattle still graze nearby. Along the drive, one could see wildflowers, hear and sometimes see birds, and feel at peace.  It was a happy route.

I get it. We live in one of the fastest growing areas of our state. My wife and I have noticed that traffic has become much more of a problem since we moved here over a decade ago. People need somewhere to live. Property values are high, so relief, by way of more construction would be a benefit.

John Denver in his song “Rocky Mountain High”, penned the line, “more people, more scars upon the land”. His was an anthem for environmentalism.  For him the building of roads, stores, houses and everything else were “scars”.

I see his point. I wish that they would stop. Preserve the land! It is not enough that more people are moving into this formerly bucolic area, but that they are not arriving as simple pioneers. Rather they want all the conveniences of modern life. So instead of a modest home, for people who are looking to start a family, the new construction is aimed at jet-setters and the “nouveau riche”. Upper middle class mansions with well maintained lawns are what most seem to want.

Preserving the land appears to have taken a back seat to commercialization. But does it have to be?

People move here in part because of the beauty and climate. Many long term residents want to restrict newcomers, for they are concerned about losing some of the beauty and simplicity.

In America this problem seems to be more acute. In other world cites, the city proper is quite dense. But soon one can be in the more sparsely populated regions. Sure urban sprawl exists everywhere, but in this country, the idea seems to be unfortunately, to build more and bigger.

I hope that all of the trees are not cut. That some of the land remains uncommercialized.  We need to preserve and maintain what we have, for as the lyric reads “you don’t know what you’ve got, ‘til it’s gone.”