Notes on a community in transition.

Wither thou goest I may or may not follow.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Guelph's ticky tacky housing inventory

The builders of Guelph's ticky tacky housing sprawl don't want any brakes on their voyage to hell in a hand basket. They want to build their unsustainable subdivisions on the 1950's picket-fence Anywhere North American model, like some bacterial colony on an agar plate devouring everything in its wake until it dies in its own wastes. And they want to be allowed to do so because the market should be allowed to decide, only now they are using pretend environmental arguments to suggest that people will have to commute to Guelph to work because there won't be enough housing here.
A lot of small builders care deeply about the land and the water and the air, but I've never seen a single subdivision in Anywhere North America that was built by a large builder that came close to showing concern for anything but making as much money for as little work and little quality as possible.
Unless you build in Muskoka, where the Canadian Shield protects the land from being destroyed to suit some unimaginative landscape architect's prettification plans, here the land is bulldozed out of existence and reconstructed in tidy packages so that people afraid of catching life can live in the delusion of security.
What is this 'unseen hand' of the market that is so good at deciding what's good for us ? It's an unseen hand full of cash and speculative ambition, it's a hand that is seriously contaminated with organized crime money, it's a hand that feeds only certain mouths, it's a hand that passes the buck of hard decisions to the future.
In the end though, to someone like me, who insists that people need to understand that human beings are symbiotic life forms, with zillions of proto-bacteria in our cells breathing for us, metabolizing our food for us, the "unseen hand" is made up of the array of bacterial symbionts alive in every human cell. It is an array that is adept at transmitting and receiving myriad bits of energy-information, but in the end it has the understanding of a bacteria. Humanity derives mutual benefit from their existence in our cytoplasm, but human ingenuity in service to basic bacterial imperatives are what has brought us to the edge of the ecological Armageddon facing humanity.
And rest assured, bacterial symbionts will survive the disappearance of humanity, they are in every other life form on the planet.
The unseen hand of the market is mindless because it has the brain of a bacteria, it is unseen because we don't look for it in biology, in life, we look for it in economic abstractions.
The unseen hand of the market is simply bacterial life intent on eating and drinking and consuming every resource required by an organism like a human being, and when the species dies in our own wastes the free-range bacteria will take over, and other large multi-celled organisms will inherit the earth, ones that lack the ingenuity of humanity to hasten the turning of the earth into its own grave.
Controlled urban planning is no different than controlled eating or drinking, or controlled tempers, or controlled this, that or the other thing.
It is the nature of the control that is at issue: it can be extreme or it can be moderate. From my perspective, council is attempting to moderate the future, to facilitate a life that might survive. This council happens to consist of people who have thought long and hard about best practices for environmentally sustainable alternatives. To get lectures on sustainability from builders who have laid waste to the beauty of Ontario causes me to control my righteous indignation.
I'm something of a crank however, it's the Groucho Marxist in me, I think Anywhere North America is the most self-satisfied, arrogant empire the world has ever known, and much of what passes for life in it, is lifestyle, a style created by the corporate buck-passing manageriat parodied in Dilbert, full of stuff and nonsense our children will have to deal with. The sorting out of 'the stuff and the nonsense' however has started, the need and greed cycle is ending. It has to. Pride cometh before a Fall.