Cry not for the magnolia: Avenge it!

Bill Branyon’s recent commentary [“The Talking Magnolia,” Aug. 20] seems noble on the surface but in substance exhibits the typical eco-conservatism of the green bourgeoisie. He wants the city and county to sign off on all developments larger than 5,000 square feet. However, in order to do this, the residents will have to “conclude that Asheville has about as many people and big developments as it needs.”

As with other “green” communities—such as Santa Monica, Aspen or Cambridge—his naive and vague recommendations will end being less about humanization than about locking out people who aren’t worthy of the local bourgeois utopia. In America, a humanized lifestyle goes for a premium. If you can’t afford it, you’re obviously not worthy of it.

For those of us in the suburban (and progressive!) middle class who are more than willing to balance growth with green, he offers nothing. We might be willing to live in multi-unit developments, which consume fewer resources by every measure. Of course, those end up being more expensive per square foot than houses with land. Talk about bass-ackward—and he only wants to make it worse!

Thanks Mr. Branyon, but America doesn’t need another green ghetto weeping for a century-old magnolia that’s lost most of its carbon-sequestering properties anyway. Asheville’s residents are going to have to conclude that they want to be trailblazing pioneers of a humanized and affordable lifestyle that could be exported nationwide. That’s a call to arms (and an economic-development strategy) worth fighting for.

— Chris Dixon

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