“The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows, “Beware of listening to this imposter; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.”
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality
From that moment on, society’s trajectory has been towards consumption-oriented, wealth driven, privatized environments. Yet, when every bit of public land is turned private, the pavement dried and the perfectly manicured lawns placed just so, has anyone the courage to ask, when does it stop? What comes next? With all that is gained, what have we lost? Will the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) who have belonged to this land for thousands of years and the blue collar workers who worked on this very land feel included or displaced? What happens to our sense of community and belonging that is so integral to one’s existence and well being, when every street is a monoculture of the other?
While aesthetics and economics guide the new developments, this comes with a cost. Public spaces often become more restricted, inequalities are reinforced and people displaced.
Moreover, the fish bait discourse such as “sustainability,” “mutually beneficial” and “contemporary” lure in support for such projects and shape human behavior towards high impact lifestyles, creating environments that encourage driving rather than biking, and fail to include commercial lots for places like grocery stores. Meanwhile, we continue to see low-density, million-dollar home developments such as Crumpit Woods, North Crumpit and Legacy Ridge sprawl into our forests, along with the many single-family attached row homes. That’s not density — it’s urban sprawl for the affluent.
Join us for a panel discussion on these topics Oct. 9th at the @theledge.ca with climate activists @ngottliebphoto and @avi.lewis, language and cultural teacher, Skwxwu7mesh Charlene Joseph and sociologist, Dr. Peter Hall.