Letter: Growing into poverty | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Growing into poverty

What good is more if it’s not better? It’s not about growth — it’s about the neighborhood.

Everyone wants to use the word “growth” and “economic development” as if they were synonymous. Let’s get one thing straight: They’re not. You can grow yourself into poverty just as easily — we have ghost towns all over the West to remind us of that. In fact, we had a little dip in 2008 and 2009, which proved it beyond all doubt. The faster you grow, the faster and bigger the fail. This is why I wish I heard the phrase “managed growth” more frequently; heck, I’d settle for just hearing it once at any City Council meeting in the Roaring Fork Valley.

So what makes for “managed growth”? This is growth, which takes into account quality of life. You don’t separate out where you sleep from where you work from where you shop from where you eat or drink a coffee with a crowd. You make neighborhoods that have all the things people need within walking distance. You make these neighborhoods small enough for people to know one another, to see one another every day, to become a community. Small communities can live inside larger ones, but without the sense of “neighborhood,” we lose connection with the big picture. It’s linear; our family, our block, our city, our region, our state, our country, our continent and our world flow like water — from a droplet to the ocean merging into a sense of responsibility and belonging.

More simply, if you don’t plan for a cohesive neighborhood with the butcher the baker and the candlestick maker, you get a lot of disconnected people who don’t give a damn about who is living next door. The “tree farm” is a poster child for the disconnected life.

Ziska Childs