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Alliance for Sustainable Communities
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Timothy Beatley, says in his book The Ecology of Place, “Our nation and its communities are at a critical juncture in terms of how they will grow, evolve, and deal with increasingly urgent environmental and social concerns. American communities, and indeed the American people, have important choices to make about the types of places they wish to inhabit and the kinds of environments they hope to leave their children and grandchildren.

“In many ways this dilemma stems from competing visions of the future. One path continues the status quo by simply projecting our current patterns of development into the future. This scenario is one of continuing to accommodate the march of low-density, auto-dependent, sprawling growth; facilitating the loss of natural landscapes that sustain us and other life on the planet; perpetuating our irresponsible patterns of waste and consumption; and witnessing the continuing decline in the bonds of community and the quality of our living conditions.

“But there is an alternative vision, one that imagines a different future. This future is one in which land is consumed sparingly, landscapes are cherished, and cities and towns are compact and vibrant and green. These are places that have much to offer in the way of social, cultural, and recreational activity, where the young and the old are not marginalized, and where there is a feeling of community, an active civic life, and a concern for social justice. In these communities, the automobile has been tamed, many transportation options exist (including public transit and walking), and fundamental human mobility and freedom are enhanced. These are communities in which the economic base is viable as well as environmentally and socially restorative. This vision of place emphasizes both the ecological and the social, where quantity of consumption is replaced with quality of relationships. In short, the vision is about creating places citizens can be proud of - places of enduring value that people are not ashamed to leave to their descendants.”

The above introduction starts with a quote from Donella Meadows from “Can Los Angeles Learn to Live with Limits?” as follows: “The problem of the 21st century is how to live good and just lives within limits, in harmony with the earth and each other. Great cities can rise out of cruelty, deviousness, and a refusal to be bounded. Livable cities can only be sustained out of humility, compassion, and acceptance of the concept of enough.”

The concept of ‘enough’ is something I learned, living in a log cabin on a 75 acre wooded peninsula in Maine, a mile and a half walk from the road. It felt so right that I’ve lived that simple life ever since. But it isn’t something we learn at home, teach our children. It isn’t a premise we live by. Living with limits is not something we adopt full-heartedly. It is, however, a way of life whose merits we need to consider if we are going to provide for a quality of life that citizens in Anne Arundel County are seeking to define and protect as they devote themselves to Small Area Planning. It is a principle that we espouse as we reach out to bring innovators to Workshops with public officals and citizens in order to devise a new agenda.

 


 

 

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