Things We Do for Places We Love

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Veterans Day parade kicks off in New York City on 11/11/11

   The love debate continues unabated on several private listservs inhabited by some of the best and brightest architects and planners, but they’re making some fundamental errors. Some confuse “cuddly” and “cute” with “lovable,” for example. Neither buildings nor towns are often cuddly or cute. Those terms are usually reserved for small furry things. Maybe a Katrina Cottage or hobbit house might be cuddly or cute, but very little else. Lovable? That’s a very different matter.

statue of man and horse atop a building in Milan bathed in orange light against the deepening blue of the evening sky

   For love of freedom, people rise up and throw off tyranny, even at the cost of everything they’ve worked for until that moment, and even at the cost of life itself. From the crucible of this sacrifice, nations are born or reborn.

   For love of a country, young men and women get up and march, and lay their lives in the breach, risking maiming or death.

   For love of a region, people forego many self-interests to say “that’s my homeland.” "American by birth; Southern by the grace of God” is but one example.

   For love of a city, activists take hazardous stands and spend countless hours to stir the populace to make the better choice.

   For love of a town, those with resources put them at risk because of the dream of the city that will someday emerge as a result of their risk.

   For love of a neighborhood, citizens band together and spend countless hours to make their neighborhoods clean and safe.

   For love of a building, people chain themselves to long-loved structures and stare down the bulldozers that threaten them.

Miami Beach Veteran's Day Parade 2010 kicks off with the Marching Hi-Tides from Miami Beach High School

   These are things we all should know implicitly… they should be part of our DNA. How many New Urbanists have never said “I love this city?” How many times has the phrase “I love my country” been voiced, just in the USA? A hundred billion times? Maybe a trillion times in American history? Surely those words have been uttered many trillions of times in many languages around the globe in human history. A building, a neighborhood, a town, a city, a region, or a nation, are not things too big to love.

   It is high time to end the architectural conceit that lovability is somehow beneath us and realize that this is a powerful tool… possibly the most powerful tool… in doing the good things we are trying to accomplish. That which cannot be loved will not last. Let’s build things that last. If not, then why do we build?

   ~Steve Mouzon


© Stephen A. Mouzon 2020