I get mentally exhausted from viewing the homogenization of America. What do I mean by that? I get tired of seeing so many cities in this country with the “same old, same old” big box stores. Walgreens, CVS’s, Bed, Bath and Linens, “Golden Arches”, Pep Boys, et cetera, et cetera… It isn’t just the Big Boxes but tons of parking lots. Whether they are garages, municipal spaces or surrounded by green shrubbery gates creating an ultimate Fung Shui from hell, America is always built on the continuance of the automobile. We love our cars. Television loves our cars. The dealerships can’t wait for us to come in and spend our hard-earned money on the latest SUV or crossover vehicle.Why else are we bombarded by commercials for Subaru, Dodge, Chevrolet, etc., every day when we look at the idiot box? Can you imagine if we were bombarded by commercials for walking tours or bicycle rides? Walking tours through some of our most cherished American cities? Bicycle tours throughout America’s most exciting rural landscapes? We would not be mentally exhausted, as I am, but physically recharged. We would be revived and regenerated. Those commercials are not going to happen, at least, not yet soon, in my opinion.
The next best and most obvious, is that we must continue to preserve our most cherished places and artifacts of the past. So, how do we do that? We become aware of what is going on in our own neighborhoods and cities. We attend historic preservation meetings that are going to be open to the public-especially if a celebrated old structure is in the process of being demolished. We join local preservation groups in our hometown and national organizations like the National Trust for Historic Preservation. We visit such places that have wonderful historic districts in cities like Charleston, New Orleans, Savannah, Williamsburg and so many more. We support the local economy when we stay in a historic hotel in that destination of choice. We read not only about old buildings and communities but Civil War battlefields, as well as, areas that once were company towns in New England, among other regions. We engage in festivals and celebrations that have long been part of our community’s traditions. We engage. Period.
We need to ask ourselves if a company like CVS comes into our town and they want to bring one of their commonplace designs-can they take over a historic building and provide their services in that same structure? If they say yes and are amenable to that idea, will we support them? It is my express wish that they do exactly that. Can we talk to our developers about taking an old factory that has been abandoned for a half century and persuade them to convert this space into condos or housing for seniors in their golden years? I hope we can. Apathy is a disease, folks. Regret is useless. The more we engage, as opposed to, disengage-we have the power to “un-homogenize’ America and make our communities look “heterogenous” instead by preserving our heritage, creating jobs and making our neighborhoods unique. Are we up to that challenge? Our children, grandchildren and generations-to-come after that will be most grateful.