While waiting for some work to be done at a local business establishment recently, I started reading a fish-wrap edition of the Free Press Houston (FPH). While not a regular reader of the Free Press Houston, I have picked up a copy at this establishment on some 8-10 occasions. The FPH follows in the mold of a number of “alternative” publications that Houston has seen over time, and focuses on the local arts world, and in particular the Houston music scene. A typical issue is 40 or so pages long, with lots of advertisements for various bands, shows, and events going on around town. In this vein, the FPH is something of a newer, slimmed-down version of the Houston Press. FPH seems to have a stable of 15-20 regular contributors, and the writing could be more or less characterized as leaning center-left, with regular criticisms of and potshots taken at Republicans. I don’t get easily offended these days, and often find the writing to be somewhat lightweight, but mildly entertaining.
One article in this most recent issue of the FPH was particularly interesting, however. The article, Small Minded: Signs That Point to a Bleak Future, was written by a fellow (or nom de plume) calling himself David H. Mr. David H’s article describes how in 2013, Americans were bombarded by the media celebrating the joys of micro living. Mr. H goes on to discuss how Americans were hit with lots of stories on the alleged desirability of living in smaller houses or apartments, as well as the push for car sharing (rather than owning your own car). Mr. H also talks about how media have featured stories on longer distance overland travel by motor coach bus (whether via Megabus or Greyhound), rather than presumably by one’s own car. Mr. H intersperses his article with laments about living in an America with high living costs and low wages. In general, I suspect that Mr. H is a young man, perhaps in his twenties, who (like many in that age group) finds himself struggling to get his life going.
But what I found interesting about Mr. H’s article is that he concludes as follows:
….As we Houstonians usher in a new year, we should never give up hope for a better life. That possibly such an ideal is something more than a campaign slogan, but a way to forge a new future for you and yours. As it stands to me, these are all signs of a possibly bleak future, where people can’t afford a home, qualify for an auto loan, and who have to travel by bus to visit relatives. But if these trends of compromise continue, the future looks more hopeless than hopeful.
Now, the reason I find this to be interesting is precisely because this world that Mr. David H. does not seem to be too thrilled with is exactly what more than a few of the so called Smart Growth and sustainable development crowd are advocating. If you were to ask me to sum up in one sentence what environmentalism stands for, I would tell you it would be to reduce Mankind’s footprint on the planet Earth. The idea of living in small dwellings, not having your own vehicle to transport yourself, and having to share transportation with strangers are all very much in line with such a vision. Or rather, it would be a vision the Smart Growthers would want for others, but not necessarily for themselves.
Reading such pieces is a reminder for me that many younger people are likely to aspire to living the way that their parents and grandparents lived, if not better. It should be the job of the adults of America to make sure that the opportunities that allow for that part of the American dream to come true are still attainable. Otherwise, we will have failed and cheated the youth of America, and I would not take pride in that legacy.