Sunday, February 28, 2010

Honoring the Human

From letter from Belle to Amelia, 17 January 2007
... The whole concept of “honoring the feminine.” If it were truly honored in our society, one wouldn’t have to go out of one’s way to honor it, i.e., to pay it lip service. I don’t think it’s really about the feminine. It’s about the human. The human in men too needs to be not so much honored – as heeded.

I’m being entirely incoherent here, sorry, but I’ll keep trying to plug forward. In American society there’s been a strong capitalist winner-takes-all conquering mentality that has dominated everything. It’s been ruining our physical landscape for decades. In my own community we’re waiting to learn what the octogenarian Greenport planning board will decide with respect to the big-box store (Walmart supercenter) proposal.

I appreciated the views of one gentleman in particular in this community battle (the retired Wallstreeter). Figuring he might be receptive to new ideas, I sent him an email saying that I had been musing about what might go in this 130 acre site absent the Walmart proposal. My scenario involved a fairly high-density older-adult community which would connect with nearby shopping areas and downtown Hudson via a trolley system so that people wouldn’t have to jump in their cars for every errand, and with sidewalks and landscaping so people can walk. (He sent me a warm email back, flatteringly asking my permission to circulate my email to “a group of thoughtful citizens of the region who spend a lot of their time thinking about our county’s future.” Oh my.) (Well, that was 2 weeks ago and I haven’t heard anything back!)

Anyway, my point is that what’s missing in the Walmart proposal is the human factor - the developers don’t care about it, it’s about maximizing their needs. I’m not saying that my off-the-cuff idea has any merit at all, but at least I used my imagination and tried to take into account perceived community needs, unlike the Greenport planning board.

I really feel, on a visceral level, that things are starting to change. The Greatest Generation has had its say, thank you very much, and now there’s a new generation that has seen what 50 years of their decisionmaking has done. And we are saying, no thank you, we are not doing that yet again. This is coming up from the community, unbidden. (Oh, and I see at the end of your letter that you think so too - “somehow I think the current ecological crises may be a blessing in disguise for ‘the missing half.’”)

Sometimes I don’t think it’s just the “missing half.” Sometimes I think it’s everything else. Everything that’s not winner-take-all/maximizing/me-me-me/ profit motive only, etc.

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