Abandoned yet occupied

Here in Reston they recently tore down some low to mid-income apartments, along with the old trees that flanked them. They weren’t beautiful historic houses (there’s only about 3 houses that date back before the 1960s in Reston). They weren’t run down either. But they are now going to become bigger and better, shinny and new and unaffordable to those who lived their earlier. It seems here things aren’t built to last, everything is disposable.

Destruction of good to build bigger and better is scheduled to take place at several apartment complexes across Reston in upcoming months and years, each time chipping away affordable housing. We may be in what is the 2nd richest county in the US, but daily I’m meeting people who are without a home or at risk of loosing their housing.

You wouldn’t drive around Reston and say there’s “abandoned building” yet we have plenty of older office buildings, commercials parks, etc that are unoccupied or only partially occupied.  Sometimes I think, “Why not turn them into affordable housing?” I know it’s not that easy, but we’re also not that desperate (at least yet).

In Detroit on the other hand….

The documentary Detropia won a Sundance Award and features those who live in some of Detroit’s abandoned places. I’m excited to see it.

Or the 300 some Spaniards and African immigrants living in an abandoned factory outside of Barcelona, Spain. 

The economic crisis in Europe is frightening because it’s not hard to see that it could easily happen to us.  How will the Greeks respond? Blame immigrants? Demand government services? Band together or fracture apart?

Should the government continue to spend, spend, spend what it doesn’t have to stimulate the economy? Do we have to continue relying on over consumption and consumerism to improve the economy?

Gus Speth, author of America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy, has some innovative and hopeful suggestions. Check out an excerpt from his book here. And I’ll leave you with this quote:

It is time for America to move to a post-growth society, where working life, the natural environment, our communities and families, and the public sector are no longer sacrificed for the sake of mere GDP growth; where the illusory promises of ever-more growth no longer provide an excuse for neglecting our country’s compelling social needs; and where true citizen democracy is no longer held hostage to the growth imperative.




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