Over Christmas break I stumbled across something that restored a sense of creative hope I haven’t felt in a long time.
My hometown Bellingham occupies a special place in the hearts of myself and many others. Of course it is far from perfect, but it still functions as sort of sanctuary for hold-out hippies, outdoor adventurers, writers, recluses, musicians, local business, co-ops, gardeners, artists, and the like. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to grow up.
Recently, however, it seems that any change tends to be bad news. Out of control residential development has replaced the howls of coyotes below my parents home, truly awesome playgrounds have been torn down by new safety codes, the BNSF railway continues to own most of our state coastline, access points to rivers and trails regularly get sealed off, businesses gentrify or are replaced by national chains, and suburban retirement destinations stamp over local wild places. These changes seem to threaten the very identity that makes a place like Bellingham extraordinary. Is it melodramatic to describe this process as a sort of self-inflicted cultural genocide?
Please join me for a short photo story. As you read, you might consider some of the questions that this adventure provoked me to re-ask:
- Is the tragedy of the commons without exception? Is it possible to share materially without being completely taken advantage of?
- As a society, are we a curse on the land? Is it possible for our actions to have a neutral or positive visual and environmental impact?
- On a more general level, is our built infrastructure destroying the substance that keeps our hearts alive?
- Can we do anything worthwhile in the public domain without getting shut down?
- In a context of deep sadness, can we still experience playfulness and wonder?
What do you think? I’d love to hear everyone’s $0.02 in the comments.