Uglification of the Landscape
I've always been sensitive to the aesthetics of built human environments, and when I was growing up I was constantly questioning why our communities couldn't look nicer. By "note nice" I'm particularly referring to the 'landscape of the offramp;' those stretches of car dealerships, fast food joints, strip malls, franchise hotels, parking lots, and utilitarian architecture we're all familiar with. Although our modern uglification of the landscape has many other manifestations as well.
I recently moved to a place where I'm interacting more with the landscape of the offramp than I have in the past, so these things have been on my mind, and my frequent encounters with strip malls and freeways leave me vaguely distressed. I'm lucky enough that those encounters are mostly limited to portions of my commute to and from work or when I have to go to the grocery store (I live in a quiet, leafy neighborhood). But the question I want to pose is how anyone else here responds to landscapes that have been "made ugly" by commerce and industry? Personally, in addition to my need to constantly recharge in nature (as has been discussed by others on the fibromyalgia thread), I also fantasize about the time when economic and environmental conditions change so much that the concrete scars of our society are surrendered to nature. Looking at the long-term predictions posted on this site, it looks like those conditions will start arriving within the next decade. Hooray!
I hear you, Coyote. Travel the freeways of Houston, and you will see a hundred miles of that blight. It would seem as if the whole world has been turned into a giant, tacky, wall-to-wall strip-mall. Nothing but parking lots and Quikie-Lubes and Shit-Fil-A's. This is not America the Beautiful. This is late-stage capitalism metastisizing every last square foot. And i am not saying that as some sort of "back to the woods" communal hippie. I am more of an inner-city type communal hippie, who wishes that the woods and fields were not being destroyed for such ugly and wasteful stupidities.
Totally agree! Read, "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" by Jane Jacobs. She was panned as a nut when she wrote her book almost 60 years ago but has been totally vindicated. She preached mixed use, walkable communities. Yet another reason I live in a small (~2,500) town.
I live in CT where we don't have as many big chain restaurants but more small, family owned ones. We have the malls, strip and otherwise, but they are made to look more charming (I live in a town that is approx 25K people, not a big city). When I traveled down south, especially to flat areas like Houston and other cities in TX I noticed that none of the restaurants were small, homey ones but all these big chains. When I visit family in Germany even the smaller cities are all small shops and restaurants. Everything is in walking distance or biking for most people. I love that kind of life. Notice they all look slimmer than us too. They walk more or take a bike. We spend way too much time in this country driving. Most of my friends have to commute over an hour to work every day. The traffic is insane.