Monday, September 8, 2014

Paving Paradise

Give us all a reverence for the Earth as your own creation, that we may use its resources rightly in the service of others and to your honor and glory.--Prayers of the People, Form IV, BCP, p.388. 

When I first flew into Tallahassee back in the summer of 1990 for my job interview, I struggled to see the city from the sky. There were some lights peeking up through the darkness, but I really couldn't see a city. The next morning, it would become clear to me why I couldn't see Tallahassee from the air at night. It was a green city, packed with parks and trees, trees, and more trees.  I had never seen anything like this before in a state capital.  Concord, NH, is tiny compared to most capitals.  But it is well lit.  And it has concrete.  Same with Jefferson City, MO. And Boston is full of history... and lots of bricks. So, as capitals go, Tallahassee with its canopy roads and towering wooded areas was truly one of a kind.

Which is why the massive clear cutting of a pine forest at the busy intersection of East Park Avenue and Magnolia Drive was so devastating to behold. I was shocked, saddened and depressed to see large piles of what had been stately pines piled up to be hauled off to a lumber yard. And to what end?  The property owners apparently got five million dollars for the sale of this property. The public will now get another strip mall, remarkably called "Magnolia Grove," to go with the Walgreen's, McDonald's and Buffalo wings place. Gee, thanks.
Is Myers Park next?

Some have said it was inevitable.  We are growing after all. And this property is near lots of shopping areas and businesses. Why should we be surprised, then, that it has been torn up to be paved and built up just like so many other parts of the city? 

Because this is Tallahassee.  It isn't Miami or Jacksonville.  Like me, lots of other people moved here in part because the city had so many green spaces.  But these days, there seems to be an eagerness to tear it up to erect a brand new Whatever shopping center.  Meanwhile, there are countless shopping plazas all over Tallahassee that stand dormant, waiting for someone to love them back to life with a grocery store or a retail outlet of some kind. Why are we not making use of these vacant buildings and pre-paved lots? Why are we insisting on ruining the very thing that makes us different from other cities?

Whenever I pray the words from the Book of Common Prayer that opened this post, I have an image of something in the earth and our environment that I feel needs the prayer. I've visualized the Gulf of Mexico, the sea creatures poisoned by various spills and accidents, even our modest compost heap. Now, I will be visualizing what had once been a lush forest of pine trees at the corner of East Park and Magnolia. Don't be surprised if I cry a little.


Phoebe McFarllin said...

There is a song about ticky tacky little boxes and the all look the same.. Tallahassee is getting more and more like that. Not happy!

SCG said...

I agree, Phoebe+. It's horrible.

Julie said...

Funny, how new developments so frequently are named for what USED to be in that space but was destroyed for new construction.

SCG said...

It's kind of sickening, isn't it, Julie? I'm wondering when Tallahassee will just rename itself "Pottersville," if you get my drift...