We are a picture of adolescence; full of energy, fresh beginnings, but also short sightedness. Our cities will continue to grow with or without vision, but they will not create a ‘place’ if we are not conscious of it.
We have all experienced the sense of ‘place’ I am speaking of. It is the way you feel walking around the Kenai River Festival, the comfort of a coffee shop or bar when you are surrounded by people gathered just to gather, and the way Homer’s Spit has become a destination for not only tourists but for us as well. I am defining ‘Place’ as identified character and intimate connection to its people. I do believe that sense of relationship exists here, but we have yet to nurture it into a united vision that shapes our physical environment.
We are a community full of independent explorers that prize their freedom. I have seen in my short time working here that more regulations are not the first step in creating a sense of place within our built environment. Because of the very character of who we are, we will buck against being forced into anything ... even if in the long run it is better for us (we are young).
The only way I see change happening is for it to start in us. For us to think beyond our property lines, beyond our capital ventures and see into the way we live together, or in the more obvious observation, the way we don’t.
We have all seen what happens if a community’s vision stays divided and commerce alone drives development. You can experience it in the sprawling suburbs of most large cities that multiply islands of chain stores and mazing residential developments to the point of eerie deja vu. Neighbors, we are not doomed to repeat and then fix. We can learn now from precedent and grow ‘up’ward together.
With foresight and respect we need a vision that goes deeper than our cities’ economic growth. We need to care together, be educated together and consider each other. So though this is a call to all, I am going to single out my generation. Men and women of your 20s and 30s, it is time for us to build on what was given to us. Our parents settled this area and it is time for us to refine it. To embrace the realization that the invisible property lines that divide our land, do not divide us at all. It is time for us to at least ask ourselves the question; what do we want our home/community to be?
“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” —Vincent Van Gogh