Place is important. We all live in a place that we’ve chosen for one reason or another. It’s one of the mediums that society offers us as a way of expressing who we are; as a way of defining to ourselves (and others) what our lives are about. Where we live determines what our lives are like—how much we drive, what kind of community we are a part of, the size of our carbon footprint. The trouble is that, for a variety of reasons, people in America have become exceptionally good at producing places that do not accurately reflect who we are and what we believe in – places that are, to put it bluntly, not worth caring about; that embody and reinforce bankrupt patterns of consumption, consumerism, isolation and total dependence on the automobile. It’s the strip mall, paved paradise of Anywhere, USA that has become as despised as it is ubiquitous. But anyone who’s explored authentic, well-built urban environments and vibrant neighborhoods the world over knows that there are better ways of constructing the spaces of our lives. As we’ve gone about building South Main, we’ve seen that, while it might take a whole lot more work, it is possible to create a place that people deeply love.
We can’t speak to what place means to you, but to us it means being surrounded by progressive, creative, thoughtful, inspiring sustainable ideas and the people who are living them. In South Main, this is expressed through architecture, craftsmanship, music, art, the mountains, the river and the people creating and playing in those spaces.
We came to many of our ideas through the works of others. So, if any of this resonates with you, may I suggest you pick up Bill McKibben’s ‘Deep Economy’ and ‘Suburban Nation: The rise and fall of the American Dream’ by Duany et al. We plan to talk about these books and others as this blog moves forward.