Paving Over Our Own Habitat

I love this line from The Boulevard Book:

“We became aware that the boulevard epitomizes a completely different paradigm for urban street design–one that embraces complexity and coexistence of movement over simplicity and separation, and one that insists that access to abutting uses is as central to the functionality of city streets as swift through movement.”

That’s why I’m learning how to draw and diving into design and trying to do this the right way. I sometimes give up on things because they’re too hard. But it’s usually the most complex of tasks, the things we work hardest on that make us happiest. It’s correlation, not causation, because who would work so hard on something they didn’t love?

It’s easy to drive down 28th Street or US-131. It’s also easy to speed and get into an accident. It’s also easy to ignore the landscape, the backdrop to your everyday existence, the people in that landscape who are your neighbors. It’s probably easier to plan areas for cars because there’s no resistance against that anymore. But that doesn’t mean it’s right.

I bet my science degree friends would agree that everything about the created world is incredibly complex, that the more we study it the more mysteries we find. A city is equally complex. We study how it works but there are still many mysteries. It has a life of its own, and it’s not under our control. Creating banal, boring places for cars with ugly stores and endless parking lots simplifies and paves over the life of our cities. We lament when a shopping mall gets built over a thriving marsh, but we’re part of that natural system we say we’ve escaped from. We’ve destroyed habitat: our own habitat.

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