October 19th, 2006 12:00 EST
The Seeds of Over-Development
Walking along a heavily wooded road, the branches of the trees above my head curve to make a canopy of green. Light streams filter in through breaks in the leaves, falling lazily to the pavement below. It is, in a word, beautiful.
From out of the earth, unnaturally grows brick and siding, towering over the newly leveled land. Multiplying at an exhausting rate, the buildings sprout up, cluttering the area into an organized claustrophobia.
This scenario of development versus nature, with the former as the constant victor, has become an epidemic as of late. It seems that every plot of innocent land is just one step away from the battering ram. Every hundred feet a new office building rises, nestled alongside a brand new housing development, fully equipped with two front doors and 3 car garages. Is this a necessary evil or a fabricated need?
First, let’s examine evolution. In current years, family size has been decreasing but houses built for these families have been increasing. An inverse relationship is obvious, but does it make sense? Why are houses with 5 or 6 bedrooms being constructed when the average family has only 2 children? Is there really a need for those extra 2 or 3 bedrooms or is it all just a game for status? Keeping up with the Jones’ has become a race for the biggest house, the biggest vehicle and the fattest wallet.
Enormous buildings (dare I say ‘homes’, for the plasticity of these developments speaks nothing of comfort) with extravagant chandeliers and wall-encompassing windows are a testament to your place on the ladder of success. Sadly, the participants of this race-to-the-top only find themselves face to face with their opponents, as the moving truck pulls in next door. A house, strikingly similar to your own (their door is on the left side), fills with the same overly expensive decor and apathetic family. Finally you can say you’ve made it, because superfluous possessions and life in a cookie-cutter development are finally yours.
Society has lost sight of what matters. A close-knit family network means more than the number of bedrooms you have to house them. A beautiful landscape of flourishing trees and blooming flowers are more important than cramming as many oversized houses onto a newly leveled lot. Having untouched forest and sprawling wilderness give more to the community than soulless housing communities, where sod and strategically planted tree-lings are the only signs of “nature”.
Why is there such a preoccupation with development? Some of the most intricate processes and life forms come from natural occurrences. There is an element of purity in nature that no developer could create.
Of course it would be naïve to say that all construction is an act against the preservation of our natural surroundings, for people need homes to live in and offices to work in. But why is there such excess? Why does a family of 4 need a house with more than 3 bedrooms? Why does every main road need rows upon rows of empty, newly-built offices? Why does every tree, every animal habitat need to be leveled down to the soil in order to make way for some new construction project? Why are these questions never addressed?
As I saunter underneath the trees, breathing in the air only a forest can breed, I feel this energy rise up inside me. I watch each branch as it sways in a gentle breeze and hope that the rustling sound will never end. A small bunny apprehensively hops back into the woods, fearful of my foreign presence. I stop for a moment to think of life without the sweet smell of dewdrops and the soft touch of leaves, but the idea transforms me into that fearful bunny, wishing to hide myself deep within the forest. Sadly, even the strength of the sturdy limbs cannot save me from the bulldozers of development that now take their positions around me. This is a battle that nature may not win.