5:18 AM – July 18, 2016
Good Morning. I appreciate you taking time to check in on my early morning musings. I remain uncommitted to how long this will last, but I will continue to try not to be boring. Ultimately, I am finding this exercise a great way to start and organize the day and so I will continue on…
After the week of travel between regions, it is easy to find yourself comparing one “place” to another “place” and I remember reading Gertrude Stein’s famous quote “there is no there, there”.
The quote comes from page 298 of Stein’s Everybody’s Autobiography, published in 1937. The full quote is:
“…what was the use of my having come from Oakland it was not natural to have come from there yes write about it if I like or anything if I like but not there, there is no there there.”
Admittedly, I have never read the entire book, but being in the land use world, I have learned about the impact of “place” and what “no there there” references. Fundamentally, an interpretation of the statement gives keen recognition to the difference between historic downtown Salisbury and the North end of Route 13 where most recent commercial development has occurred in the past 50 years. I will not attempt to tackle the economics driving these development forces, but we can agree that the highway commercial development which has occurred throughout the country leaving small towns and urban centers to gather dust has grown and developed to look essentially the same. It looks the same in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Close your eyes along the highway and you will almost forget where you are. I just drove through it and for many parts of our 9 hour drive it blended together into a sea of Targets and Chick-Fil-A (two of my favorite destinations).
Again however, the synergies and economies of scale driving these box stores, fast food and restaurant chains together with efficient, safe access to highway transportation was no coup against the small town or big urban center. It is just the way growth has occurred based on the preferences of consumers and choices communities made around the country. I am keenly aware of and support the economic growth of development and recognize the incredibly opportunities created through it. Charleston and Salisbury each have numerous examples as Charleston helped the Nation grow, Salisbury also shared similarities by being the source and location of economic growth as the “capital” of the Eastern Shore.
Along the way, the reaction to these choices has led to some changes on how we develop land and step over one farm to develop the other. My point this morning was not to debate the good and bad in land use of the past decades but simply acknowledge that it was clear to me yesterday riding along (it was peaceful in the truck as kids were a sleep) a tree canopied side road running through grain, sod and watermelon fields, there is a lot of “place” here on the Eastern Shore. There is a “there” here.
I know now that I bit off more than one cup of coffee will allow me to finish and I am even more confident that if you are still reading, you are wondering how I will wrap this up. Here you go, tell me your favorite place or send me a picture of your place anywhere in the world. Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet to @benontheshore.