This citizen thanks you--I'd hire a brass band if it would express my gratitude more--for that wonderfully lucid and beautifully focused conversation between William Fulton and Rick Cole, "Planning for a Future," March 15.
How refreshing to read about the kind of community we all want but haven't figured out how to get. And learn, by the way, that it not only can be but has been done.
I'm a farmer, so the save-agriculture issue is important to me, but it also appears that the current solutions can only result in stonewalling the problem, not solving it. A no-growth initiative, if passed, would have the long-term result of merely building up pressure until the dam gives way and behold--the San Fernando Valley we don't want has occurred.
But before I'm a farmer, I'm a resident of this great place we all love and want to keep.
We all want the same thing, I think. The difficulty is in how the objective of a long-term balance between urban and ag can be reached. Your certainty that growth will occur simply because we keep having children and people continue to move in is something we can't just make go away. We must deal with it constructively.
I grew up in a small town, as most people of my generation did, I think. Those neighborhoods were friendly places to live where everybody knew everybody because we all walked to and from schools, churches and most businesses. We smiled and greeted one another, asked after the family because we really cared.
We took time for human contact, I think, because we were a couple of generations closer to when we were truly dependent on one another in a crisis. We took responsibility for ourselves and expected to help others in need as we knew they would help us. That's the kind of town I want to live in. A couple of floors of apartments above the drugstore, florist or shoe repair around a town square with trees and grass doesn't sound like nasty high density to me, does it to you? Talk about better air quality.
It might just slow us down enough to eliminate a little high blood pressure and a few heart attacks. I don't think humans were designed for the pace we demand of ourselves these days. Do we really need all the "things" we are persuaded to accumulate? What are we doing to ourselves? Have we thought about long-term priorities?
That's a long way from land planning--but maybe not. Maybe that balance we seek between urban and ag, requiring all of us to make some compromises to accommodate one another's needs, is on the way to finding balance in our own lives. That means happier families, kids who can prosper and communities that know how to work together.
Farmers don't want to be subsidized to remain farmers. We love it or we would have quit long ago. But we don't want to find ourselves without any recourse if farming is no longer viable on that land. We're independent risk-takers by nature and training, but that's asking a bit much. Let's talk about it--together--with some good planners.