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sub specie aeternitatis

Progress?

March 26, 2005

In a community of around 40,000, new additions such as roads, signals, and especially businesses create much chatter. My town is also growing by leaps and bounds and people like to discuss the ‘progress’ the community is making for its residents. Only, all of this progress is the result of one of two things: new/improved roads, or new shopping/eating centers. And as I see the town grow and expand, I wonder if anyone else even considers the effect all of this wonderful progress has on the environment or beauty of the area. Plus, the types of new places of commerce people seem to get most excited about are local installments of big chain corporations, as if these additions were adding unique flavor to our little town. Does a new Target store really make your town better? Is Chili’s really all that different from the Outback that came a year ago? And for heaven’s sake, is a Kohl’s a true blessing for a city that already has 2 Wal-Marts, J.C Penny, Sears, Belks, etc, etc?

I suppose what really bothers me is the degree to which people enjoy the arrival of these homogeneous entities. A large chunk of unused land is flattened, paved, and large stone boxes are erected and filled with almost the exact items that are available just about anywhere else in the country, and I’m supposed to be excited about it? What about something original? Something that will actually make the community stand out, instead of making it exactly the same as any other medium sized town in America? How about a series of public parks? Someplace interesting people can visit that can’t be found in every other town in America? If we keep expanding with chain stores, subdivisions, more chain restaurants, and more look alike subdivisions, how exactly is the place going to look interesting in the future?

But, alas, it seems few people share my complaints. Or perhaps not enough of the right people share them. If there is good money to be had in the development of same looking properties, then expensive projects that, although may benefit the community as a whole, do not bring in a substantial return of investment will rarely see the light of day. If things keep developing at this pace, one can only wonder what his home will look like 50 years down the road.