Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Embracing Shrinkage

These people in Ohio got it goin' on. Recognizing their paradigm of growth was dead (yours is too, you just may not know it yet) they have embraced shrinkage! Tearing up streets, razing vacant houses and creating green space is, in fact, the future of many American cities (we venture to say within a decade) as we run up against massive growth-hindering resource limitations. Growth as we have known it is over. O V E R. It's time to look down at our teenie weenies and figure out a new game plan. And, that is just what the people of Youngstown have done. This article, from CNN, appropriately titled for the mainstream media, The Incredible Shrinking City, provides a pretty good platform for diving into the details.

It's an odd way to pioneer. "The American narrative always includes growth," said Hunter Morrison, Director of the Center for Urban and Regional Studies at Youngstown State University, which works closely with the city on plan 2010's implementation. "No one wants to talk about shrinkage. That's too threatening to politicians, civic boosters and Chambers of Commerce."

It may be mildly humorous to note the "harebrained schemes" those civic boosters clung to as they hatched plans to save an antiquated past, their marketing attempts ultimately failing to their own sad chagrin. You may have a laugh as you read the article to understand what we're getting at here.

Zeppelin's aside, and on a more human scale, these people have empowered themselves by embracing the reality of their situation in this post-industrial nation. We here can only hope that we all find the very best within ourselves in an uncertain future. Limitations are not all that scary when we make decisions that are based in sound reality, rather than fearful whims later faced with regret.

"It's getting us to think about where we're going into the future, rather than where we've been in the past."

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