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Forests and Fields to Towns and Cities: The history and future of our land

28 Jun. 2011 Posted by Hannah Mich in land use, sprawl, development, destruction, history
forests, fields, land development, destruction

Although many of us live in an area we are not indigenous to, it does not mean we should not be aware of the history of the area we live in. A clear understanding of what was there and how it became what it is now, is the best way for us to be able to make smart development decisions for the future. Was the area a forest, prairie, desert or swamp? Who were its past inhabitants: Indians, bears or wolves?

Knowing the history of a place also helps develop an even better connection with the area you claim as your home. This insight may help make us more intuitive to the needs and limits of the surrounding environment, and thus prevent further destruction. Because how can we make healthy development decisions on land that we have little knowledge of except its present condition? We cannot.

So if we continue to see land as just something to own, to develop, and to inhabit; and we believe that the land is lifeless unless we are present on it, we are only going to create one thing and that is destruction – not growth, not prosperity and definitely not a world we want to leave for future generations.

It is inevitable that we are going to continue to alter the landscape. Land that once harbored forests and fields, and deer and coyotes will become part of a suburb, town or city. However, this process is taken all too lightly by too many, and the results are sprawl and inefficient land use and development.

We need to be cognizant of what our “progression” and development does to the environment and other living things that share this planet with us. Our houses, strip malls and roads destroy the homes of many animals- and all in the name of progress, development and money. We need to redefine progress and development. We need to strike a balance between destruction and construction. Recognize, this balance is not created because we put a grassy median between highway lanes either.

I can imagine the devastation we cause many animals and plants is similar to the destruction of a flood, tornado, hurricane and fire that destroys so many people’s homes. The difference is that many people are able to rebuild their homes with just a few modifications, whereas many wildlife need to find a new home or be constrained to smaller and smaller territories that limit their own prosperity.

And all this happens right underneath our noses with many people oblivious to the destruction created in the name of construction. It makes me think may be we have not changed much since the first time we discovered the “New World” to “lay claim” on the land and all it contained. Calling the natives “barbarians” because of the way they looked and lived.

But you tell me what you think sounds more barbaric – living harmoniously among the forests, fields, lakes and rivers, or destroying those same things in the name of progress and prosperity. In my opinion the later sounds far more barbaric. Unfortunately we mask this behavior by putting up what we are told are beautiful buildings, grass lawns and safe user-friendly environments. We are not openly educated on what once was there and what was destroyed, only what was successfully constructed.

If we are truly going to progress forward, we need to know both sides of the story. We need to rediscover the history our homes and look beyond the pavement and quaint neighborhoods, regardless of how they are portrayed on billboards and in ads. There is much more to our lives and environment than suburbs, towns and cities. Prosperity and efficient development will only occur if we reconnect with the land we live on, learn from past mistakes and make it a priority to give back to the environment and area we call “home” instead of just taking from it.

Imagine living in your house, but doing absolutely no maintenance or only aesthetic-based maintenance to make it look good; or what if you lived in a house only big enough to house 5 people but 20 people lived there. The house would not last long. This is what we are doing to the land and environment we live in. We are not concerning ourselves with its limitations and we are neglecting to repair or mend what has been “broken” for far too long.

So do a little research on the history of your home. What was once there? How was the land developed? How is your home- town, suburb or city- changing now? What problems are not being addressed? How do you help fix or repair those issues? Finding the answers to these questions will be enlightening and may be a little overwhelming; but hopefully you will find a way to improve your home and environment, changing the future and making history.

Call To Action: 

Research the history of your town
Attend meetings about city development
Inquire about current and future development problems

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