Sunday, October 6, 2019

True North

I learned a few things from yesterday’s blog post. Probably the most telling was that no one who commented said, “Yes, it does seem odd that we are singling out developers and no one else.” Not big news in Howard County: developers appear to have no defenders.

Some years back someone attempted to discredit my opinions by claiming I was married to a wealthy developer. (I’m not.)  But just the suspicion that I might associate with the dreaded developer crowd was enough for some to mock my point of view. That’s some powerful stuff. The demonization of developers in Howard County is widespread.

Some of my readers have personal experiences with particular development projects. I don’t dispute their lived experiences. I am aware of community members who have educated themselves on issues of land use and have put in the time to get involved. I respect that.

It just seems too simplistic to me to blame everything that is wrong in Howard County on developers. It feels as though so many have decided to reorient their entire worlds so that this is the true North of their compass.

When we do that we inevitably push to the side other important issues in Howard County: racism and poverty, for instance. What if we made addressing those issues our true North? How would that affect what we educated ourselves on? How would we choose to spend the hours we have for community advocacy? How would we put in the time?

How would it change the kind of laws we want to have for developers if our first cause was anti-racism and anti-poverty?  It would change what our priorities are, what we value, and what we want to promote.

I am not saying there should be no rules, just as I am not saying that we shouldn’t look at money in political campaigns. But I am saying that changing our focus would change how developers fit into the bigger picture.

And I do think there is a bigger picture. I think we have gotten into such a rut that any problem that comes down the pike is automatically blamed on developers. (When all you have is a hammer...) But what if many of these problems of symptoms of something bigger and we are missing the point by not addressing it?

Is it time to reset the compass?

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