Suburban Sprawl Development Phase I at Branch Hill Farm 2003
Phase I was spoof of the rampant housing developments quickly spreading across New England. For this community event, volunteers staked out the footprints of houses and roads while engaging spectators in coversations about land use, ecological balance, development and green alternatives. Phase I was a community engagement piece intended to inspire people to recognize and discuss individual impact and responsibility. This project was developed to bring specific attention to the work of Moose Mountain Regional Greenways as well as other local partnerships. The event increased interest in their conservation initiatives and directly led to several conservation easements.
Wake-up! Look in any newspaper any day, look down any road: our native landscape is being developed at an alarming pace. New housing developments with manicured lawns and shopping centers seas of asphalt are becoming the landscape. Wildlife habitats disappear, water runs off causing cycles of flood and drought and our air becomes unbreathable. We so often forget that everything is interconnected, that the entire ecosystem requires balance to survive; we are out of balance with the very system that gives us life.
I certainly don’t mean that development is intrinsically bad; we need homes, grocery stores and roads. But, we must make better choices and decisions about how development continues for long-term sustainability rather than short-term comfort and gain. Suburban sprawl is the quintessential American disconnect that our social, business and political climates welcome – even require – to continue our contrived concept of prosperity. Towns ease well-thought-out zoning laws and wetlands regulations to draw business tax dollars while families escape cities by building huge solitary structures that are disconnected from the land and alienated from the ecosystem. We celebrate the construction of new supermarts and factories thinking only of jobs and convenience. When do we consider the bigger picture costs of such haphazard growth?
When fifty acres of once farmland is paved over for a one-hundred-home-subdivision, there is a price. Wildlife habitat is disrupted or even eliminated leading to major changes in biodiversity. The ability to produce food locally is lost. Groundwater sources are tapped beyond carrying capacity. Contrived lawn-scapes require pesticides and fertilizers, pollution that goes from our water supply to your dinner table in short order. The need to drive everywhere increases fuel consumption, pollution and sedentary lifestyles of obesity and diabetes.
Protecting our environment is more than preserving land for the sake of keeping it from changing. It is more than preserving the spiritual and aesthetic value of unadulterated nature. We need to protect land for our elemental survival. The entire ecosystem is a delicate web of interconnected dependency and your own health depends on realizing this.
Until our culture reorients to a connected to nature ethos, we will remain in crisis. If you drink water and eat fresh food, if you care about our children, you must act. Educate yourself. Educate others. Live consciously. Protect land now while you still can.
From Project Pamphlet