Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

February 23, 2014

Forum: Tranquility jeopardized by growth

By Nate Winkler

“I thought as I sat there of the ancient admonition “Be still and know that I am God” and knew that without stillness there can be no knowing, without divorcement from outside influences man cannot know what spirit means.”

In the 1920’s, Sigurd Olson was compelled to write this after sitting on a point of land, a “listening point” if you will, in Ontario to which he had canoed to watch the sun set.

Unless you just got off the boat here in northwest Lower Michigan (or you simply don’t care), you’ve probably noticed that places to engage in the quiet contemplation that Sig endorsed are getting harder and harder to find.

Recent media releases have trumpeted the projection of a population growth increase in the region. Ironically a recent editorial in this particular paper was situated adjacent to a letter to the editor regarding fracking. Ironic to me because next to the specter of Alberta tar sands being pumped under the Straits of Mackinac, depletion of groundwater for fracking, and global warming, population growth and the attendant development, is the fourth horseman of the apocalypse that will doom the quality of life here. Now, if this growth were limited to population centers and homesteads on acreage throughout the countryside, I’d not be so morose.

But as we all have seen, growth in northwest Lower Michigan means the ever-tightening noose of subdivisions, strip malls, second or third (maybe fourth?) homes serving as vacant getaway cottages, and absentee owner trophy homes dominating ridgelines, lakeshores and riverbanks. It can be more than a little unnerving when traveling about to see what resembles the outer rings of hell which are the soul-robbing suburbs of Detroit and Grand Rapids — right here in the north country.

The intrinsic values of the wild spaces that kept many of us here after childhood or brought some from other places are diminished with each passing construction season. There are incalculable values provided by wild spaces; quiet places to recreate and roam, soul renewing vistas uncluttered and unpeopled — in effect the places where our racial memory can be awakened.

Text Only

Opinion Poll
AP Video
Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: MH17 Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball