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An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

First People - The Legends. Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves. November 16, 2004. [accessed April 7, 2012].

Monday, December 19, 2011

Adaptive Re-use in Prince George's County seems beyond the Pale

The Enfield School Apartments are described as a model of adaptive reuse . 

               The Enfield Apartments building in North Carolina, constructed in 1948, originally served the community as a school. Through adaptive re-use it continues to serve the community and highlight the commitment to sustainability and community consecutiveness.[1]  Where in any Prince George's County plans is there even the faintest discussion about the possibility of potentially maybe considering such a forward looking option on the part of our political elite?

               In 1998 Darlington, Wisconsin, looked forward and after obtaining a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) converted a 1930 historic two-story Middle School complete with classrooms, a gym, and a locker facility into a multifunctional community building. The town used the concept of adaptive re-use to remodel the building into a multifunctional facility that included a city hall, police department office, county offices, a senior center, a fitness center, and a daycare center. The project undertaken by Srand Associates received the Wisconsin Association of Consulting Engineers Achievement Award for Engineering Excellence.[2]

               On the other hand, Prince George's County, Maryland, led by small group of narrowly defined stakeholders, has no plans to consider adaptive re-use for any project because the narrow idea of economic development in the county has little bearing on sustainability and cutting edge "green" thinking, Rather, Prince George's County has adopted the idea of either completely destroying green spaces because it is cheaper to bulldoze "open" land in the near term regardless of long term loss or pull down inconvenient "elder" spaces because someone assumed it would be cheaper that rehabbing existing structures.

               Adaptive reuse of designated historic buildings is recycling on a grand 21st century  scale.  A trope of the environmental movement states, "The greenest building is one already built." Extending the useful life of materials and equipment back in an existing facility means using fewer resources than constructing a new facility and preserving a connection with the past which demonstrably serves to connect communities. While upscale, high income neighborhoods are trying to figure out how to thrive in a world with diminishing resources, Prince George's County's elite few  have gone back to a time when resources were considered infinite and gaining the most for the fewest was the normal course of political life. The county is busy paving its way to prosperity obvious to the new dynamics of a world increasingly looking to re-use what it has. 

               The County elite seem to have no idea that existing buildings can be made energy efficient through the use of "good ventilation, durable materials, and spatial relationships. An additional advantage is that because an  older buildings already exists, there is no reason to use additional energy to create new building materials.  According to the National Institute of Building Sciences , "Minor modifications can be made to adapt existing buildings to compatible new uses. Systems can be upgraded to meet modern building requirements and codes. This not only makes good economic sense, but preserves our legacy and is an inherently sustainable practice."[3]

[1] From school to home. by Della Rose, 2011. Roanoke Rapids Daily Herald
fax: 608-251-8655

[3] National Institute of Building Sciences.

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