We Are What We Build And Choose Not To Build

I’ve just returned from a trip to St. Louis. Don’t go. Travel gets in the way of your ability to accept everyday stuff. I visited the old courthouse. Built in the 1840's, the scene of one of the most significant decisions in America, the building is a breathtaking example of 19th Century American architecture. That building, and others like it, are more than an architectural statement. They are a declaration of confidence of a generation in itself and its future. They were an investment in America.

Why can’t we do that?

We scrabble around arguing with anyone who wants to build anything public, as if it’s un-American to build something designed to last more than 20 years. Even our traditional subdivisions have 20-year covenants, as if we plan for our houses to disintegrate in 1 generation.

I helped my dad build houses during the 60's. I know personally those houses were built, in my case, by a kid who thought 20 years was a lifetime. The houses were built with an urgency and budget that permitted no thought of what those houses or subdivisions would look like in 20 years.

I have a theory that Eglin Air Force Base, and my civil service neighbors, are unique; they may very well be the difference between a war that would have us still killing and destroying each other in the streets of Baghdad, and the result we’ve had instead. Most of the world may not yet know that precision ordinance has changed war as history knows it. The people who are this paper’s audience were responsible. Their lives’ work has not only changed history, it has also saved thousands of lives on both sides, and has prevented needless destruction.

So why do we live as if we aren’t proud of who we are? Other places need roads and bridges, intelligently planned communities and subdivisions, and presentable governmental buildings. So do we. Is it our plan to use every asset and resource at our disposal today without thought of tomorrow?

We’ve been guilty of that. But we don’t have to stay that way. Let’s use our real estate opportunities to push for stronger, better communities with people-friendly subdivisions and houses that are attractive and well-built. I’m betting the true cost of failure to do so is higher than the cost of the effort.

I want us in the business of real estate to show our love of family and ourselves by encouraging pride in our communities and by insisting on discipline in use of our land and resources.