Thursday, February 22, 2018
Breaking News
Home » Rockies » Oregon » Columbia Gorge » Politics As A Fairy Tale
Essayist (and college instructor) Leonardo Vazquez has written an interesting essay that compares those arch-rivals, New Urbanism and the property rights movements, in this fundamental way: They both draw their power not from clear thinking so much as allegory and myth. Those movements are effective because they tell effective stories. Which is why, for example, Measure 37 gripped Oregonians’ imaginations, for good or ill. Writes Vazquez: “Using architectural images, the New Urbanism movement recounts fuzzy romantic images of a safer, simpler time in promoting compact urban form. The property rights movement offers apocalyptic visions of ravenous governments trying the steal all freedom from property owners. To the New Urbanist, the planner is Prometheus, who brings light and wisdom to the ancient Greeks. To the property rights advocates, the planner is one of those pigs that supports the tyrannical hog Napoleon in George Orwell's Animal Farm.”

Politics As A Fairy Tale

Essayist (and college instructor) Leonardo Vazquez has written an interesting essay that compares those arch-rivals, New Urbanism and the property rights movements, in this fundamental way: They both draw their power not from clear thinking so much as allegory and myth.

Those movements are effective because they tell effective stories.

Which is why, for example, Measure 37 gripped Oregonians’ imaginations, for good or ill.

Writes Vazquez: “Using architectural images, the New Urbanism movement recounts fuzzy romantic images of a safer, simpler time in promoting compact urban form. The property rights movement offers apocalyptic visions of ravenous governments trying the steal all freedom from property owners. To the New Urbanist, the planner is Prometheus, who brings light and wisdom to the ancient Greeks. To the property rights advocates, the planner is one of those pigs that supports the tyrannical hog Napoleon in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.”

About Dan Richardson

Check Also

One Big Sky Center

Hammes Company Joins One Big Sky Center Venture in Billings

Billings, Montana is moving ahead with discussions on the One Big Sky Center proposal, which ...

5 comments

  1. Thanks, Craig, I guess, for proving Vazquez’s point: You can tell an effective story; or, in your case, a list of abuses. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) No, far from being a “tree-hugging, dirt-worshipping, Oregonian druid” (I’ve yet to actually hug a tree, you see), the entirety of my brief entry was to say, hey, here’s an “interesting essay.”

    Interesting, you know? Take a read. That’s all.

    You see, not everyone believes that all people have to agree with them all the time. Sometimes, some of us find the exercise of our minds in response to well-rendered rants useful. A way to stretch the ol’ brain.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    Dan

  2. And an “interesting essay” it IS, Dan! Thanks for prodding us in that direction for there is food for thought within it me-thinks. And, for the record, if you ever want a tree to hug please let me know ~ yours for the asking!

    I’m not sure which other quote(s) I would have suggested you pull from this essay to use in your article but that one about the hogs does not seem to be as private-property-movement friendly as it might be ~ right, Craig? 😉 The negative impact of it does pale, however, when taken in the entire context of all Vazquez has written.

    But, as Craig states, right now there are a great many concrete examples that have played out to the end of the game or are mid-game with dire consequences at stake for property owners to reflect upon that are certainly not “Fairy Tales” and should generate real fear for every single property owner in the USA. The right to own *&* use property in this Nation is a unique and extremely valuable right that we do have in the USA which other nations do not. For the benefit of ourselves, our children and our grandchildren we do not dare relax and just go-with-the-flow when any step toward the destruction of it threatens.

    As a private property advocate ~ zealot, if you will! ~ and as one of those horrible life-long-natives of the West that New Urbanists love to hate as obstructionists to their revamping of the West, I might only make a couple suggestions to them as they chart their landuse plans, goals and dreams:

    1.) Please remember that the *need* for “urban sprawl” was not created by either land owners OR developers and the occupants of those homes for the most part moved into the West with *YOU*! Developers do not subdivide land and builders do not construct homes unless the marketplace demands it of them. They would all go broke and be gone at the light of the next dawn without that demand. The homes that every single New Urbanist in the West now occupy was something other than a platted lot with a house on it prior to *your* arrival in the West; and,

    2.) Many, if not most, of those who wish to re-plan and re-designate the landuse of the West are of substantial means; few are in the lower income brackets that Vazquez mentions as opposing New Urbanist concepts for very real-life reasons. So there is another alternative that I might suggest you utilize to create your dreams: BUY the property you wish to control and plan!!! Use your own money, rather than public funds from the pockets of all taxpayers, and use your own personal power-to-DO rather than encouraging such powers as eminent domain and government dictates to facilitate your dreams at the expense of others, public or private.

    Of course, if you elect to follow my Suggestion-#2 then you, too, will have become one of us dastardly private property rights advocates and you might loose your New Urbanist standing at the health food bar!!!

    Prepare a lunch that YOU will eat
    And never once will *your* defeat
    Reflect in mirror above *your* sink
    Or cause *you* ~ once! ~ to choke on drink!

    But should you just prepare a meal
    Contrived as someone else’s deal
    You’ll never know that BIG reward
    From tapping in to *your* own hoard!

    It ain’t the money makes it sweet
    Or happiness that can’t be beat.
    It’s COURAGE of *your* very own
    That you’ve displayed for *YOU* alone!

    So when you step up to be counted
    On the platform you have mounted
    Why not voice the words: *I* CAN!
    PROVE pudding from *YOUR* shiny pan!

    The words “willing buyer” and “willing seller” conjure up such a positive image!!! ~ don’t you think?

    … or so it seems to me …

    Rose Mary

  3. Rose Mary, you’re a commenter nonpareil. The arguments! The poetry! The tree for the hugging (just ask)!

    Really, thanks for your thoughts. I do, seriously, take your point (and Craig’s) that the list of government abuses of property owners is long and unsettling. (I’d note, too, that mining companies and others have a certain record for mistreating their private-property-owning neighbors, too.) There’s no two ways about it.

    Indeed, I know of (at least) two professional planners in Oregon who believe our state’s Measure 37 was a positive step; not as a final land-use law, but as a way to get government’s attention and begin taking property owners’ rights seriously again.

    All that said, I think Vazquez has a universal point: That, in politics, people adhere to a powerful story. Ask the Democrats, they came to the same conclusion after the 2004 presidential election — narrative matters.

    Thanks again,

    Dan

  4. Here ya go ~ NEW URBANISTS UNITE!!!

    Speaking of “interesting” articles, your day will NOT be complete until you read what the WA Post has to say today about the “Greening of Chicago …”: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/09/AR2006080901625.html?referrer=email

    If you find absolutely nothing else “interesting” in this article, perhaps you can at least find joy in the fact that “The urban environmental movement has spread from the margins to the mainstream, from a countercultural statement epitomized by the 1960s riff, ‘Save water; shower with a friend,’ to a policy option welcomed in boardrooms and council chambers. As other cities have climbed on board, Pacific Northwest progressives no longer have a corner on the market. ”

    How about them apples: ” … Pacific Northwest progressives no longer have a corner on the market.”?!?!?

    ENJOY!!! At bare minimum you will be reminded to “Save water; shower with a friend” and surely some good can come from THAT!!!

    As Dan says, “— narrative matters ” !!!

  5. Dan, if you had to go to a chiropractor after reading my post it’s because I stetched your “left” leg a foot longer than your right one.