I thought maybe the next time I’d muster up the motivation to post would be after graduation. But I started reading The Geography of Nowhere by James Howard Kuntsler today and after two chapters I already know that it is going to be a great read. Yes, this is a book about American landscape–it deals with everything I talk about on this blog concerning towns, suburbs, cities, and walkability. But it’s incredibly interesting and well-written! And it gets to the heart of why I want to do this with my life. Please, please, please read this book. He’s a funny writer! He has a blog, too.
In No Country for Old Men, the movie and the book, Chigurh flips a coin deciding whether or not a gas station manager will live. When the manager wins the coin-toss, Chigurh questions why he wouldn’t keep the coin forever in a special place. The coin meant something after that toss. He, against his will mind you, put up everything he was on that bet. It changed the nature of the coin forever. “Anything can be an instrument,” Chigurh says. I think about this in terms of America. We seem to pretend here that our landscape has no meaning. Sure, humans can succeed and find happiness against incredible odds, but to deny that your streets, building codes, power structures, trees, parking lots, have as much affect on you as the design of your house is compartmentalizing your life. Your environment is your environment. No matter what it is. We give it power over us every day.
Last semester in Chicago, I remember getting so mad at my internship–that it seemed to want to beautify a street more than…I don’t even know, some more altruistic motive. But I was distinguishing too much again. The Magnificent Mile needs to be beautiful. The surrounding neighborhoods need those changes we were fighting for–they need human scale rather than to be easier for cars to plow through. A flourishing community is going to be beautiful. These things affect each other.