Thursday, April 07, 2016

Florida Development 101: How Subdivisions are Really Created

A friend of mine from Atlanta sent me a series of photos this morning of beautiful trees from around the world with the suggestion that perhaps I should get one of them for my downtown jungle yard. They are beautiful specimens of flora from a good Creation for sure.

1000 year old olive tree, Greek island Aegina

One of the things that struck me as I read the descriptions was that many of the trees were over 100 years of age. To have attained such a venerable age says much about the interaction of the tree with the animal species in its vicinity, most importantly the human animal. The presence of a century old tree points toward a recognition of the inherent (as opposed to instrumental) value of the trees, a reverence for life found in a different species but essential to the life of the planet we share. There are very few things more awe-inspiring than standing at the foot of a giant sequoia which was a good sized tree well before the life of a Jewish prophet named Jeshua (Latinized: Jesus) would change the western world.  

Periodically issues of development came up in the classes I once taught. Confessing up front that I am a fifth generation Floridian with deep roots in a state which has endured more than one round of destructive practices which often hide behind benign labels such as “development,” I then regaled my students with this excerpt from the Handbook on How to Create a Florida Development.

Literalist Alert: This is satire.

First you use a bulldozer to scrape every living being from the face of the earth for your new “development.”

Then you create a system of asphalt streets with no curbs or storm sewers ending in cul-de-sacs with one street connecting the entire development to the main highway. Things will get real chummy with the driver of car number 12 in line ahead of you turning left across traffic at the egress from this development about 7:30 AM.

Next a large hovering machine looms overhead and from the nozzle on the bottom of the craft begins to excrete houses made of particle board covered with plaster, each almost exactly like the other, in rows down the new streets now bearing exotic names: Balboa Parkway, Muir Woods Drive, Fairway Lane.  


The houses are then painted different colors and some superficial stone work provides a fa├žade of diversity but they’re the same houses.  

Then, a stick with a couple of leaves is planted by the street so it can be advertised as a tree-lined street and sod is unrolled to give the appearance of a yard.

Finally, the “development” is given an inspirational name: Osprey Landing or some such...

...recognizing that the only place for an osprey to land here anymore is the satellite dish out back.

Something to think about as you sit in traffic creeping along the expressway into town at rush hour, whiffing the tail pipes of several thousand of your most intimate friends from out in the suburbs.

Osceola wept.

[All photos taken from Google images]

Harry Scott Coverston
Orlando, Florida

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.

Most things worth considering do not come in sound bites.

For what does G-d require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-d? (Micah 6:8, Hebrew Scriptures)


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