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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].

Saturday, January 07, 2012

"Malling" its Way to Prosperity - Prince George's County

               Prince George's County has adopted unofficially of course the vision of "malling its way to prosperity".  The sales pitch implicitly suggests that open space is a useless resource that needs fixing. It also suggests that the county can address all of its social and infrastructure problems by simply adding more people who can pay more taxes. Somehow the idea that the problems will grow with the population escapes notice. Prince George's County keeps promising to fix schools but does so by adding more school without repairing the problems facing the old ones. The county fixes library needs by adding libraries rather than enhancing existing libraries in established communities. The county's wealthy elite  have no time or use for long term high quality of life concepts that are achieved, according to the State of Maryland, "... through universal stewardship of the land, water, and air resulting in sustainable communities and protection of the environment.[1]

               The idea that the ordinary citizens should be active partners in the planning and implementation of community initiatives is dismissed or rendered futile by the complex Byzantine maize of procedures geared towards the professional purveyors of development. The process is geared towards the professionals and their clients because they have the money which makes sense but renders any sensitivity to their responsibilities in achieving community goals mute and vague.

               Contrarian to Best Management and Policy Practices and Guidelines, Prince George's County in a complete contrarian position does not concentrate its growth in existing population and business centers or growth areas adjacent to these centers, or strategically selected new centers. The county deciders pay lip service to extensive plans and then override them in appeal to the County Council sitting in its role as District Council. The idea of planning and developing compact, mixed–use, walkable designs consistent with existing community character and located near available or planned transit options is ignored. The idea of a family Justice Center in Upper Marlboro fails this test instantly, but that is another blog.[2]  Prince George's County goes out of its way to discouraged efficient use of land and transportation resources and preservation and enhancement of natural systems, open spaces, recreational areas, and historical, cultural, and archeological resources.

               County infrastructure is expanded before repairs and maintenance costs are addressed for existing infrastructure. If we cannot fix what we have, who will pay to fix what we are adding? Growth areas ought to have, as PlanMaryland states, "...the water resources and infrastructure to accommodate population and business expansion in an orderly, efficient, and environmentally sustainable manner."[3] The county's well known propensity for minimum wage service jobs at retail stores is not in keeping with 21st century economic development practices that encourage and promote employment opportunities for all income levels with an eye to fair and equitable living wage.

               When it comes to the environment, the small self selected decision makers of what is best for all of us have artfully suggested that a healthy ecosystem is a disservice to the majority of the county residents. Land and water resources, including the Chesapeake and the Potomac, Anacostia and Patuxent Rivers are carefully ignored. Efforts to protect are derided as anti-development as are  attempts to condition development on restoration and maintenance of healthy air and water, natural systems, and living resources. The idea that any of the following is anything but an engine to personal gain is dismissed: Waterways, forests, agricultural areas, open space, natural systems, and scenic areas. We are told that either we cannot afford them or they are an obstacle to solving all our social and financial problems.

               As we pave everything over expanding out disconnected communities, and the size of our existing problems as a percentage does not change, what, then, will happen when we run out of natural resources to destroy? Who then will pay? Where will the money come from at that point to support our crumbling infrastructure and our diminishing public services? Development should be about the next generation's quality of life, not about  the well-being of personal balance sheets of a fortunate few tomorrow.

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