Went to a small college town over the weekend looking for an apartment with my daughter. The summer heat blew in over the corn fields and the deserted campus was in limbo.  Higher learning was on sabbatical. A wedding party gathered near the clock tower in the great yard of this bucolic place. In another month the annual deluge of students will be returning. For now all I could envision was the ghostly presence of future and past undergraduates. But, away from this idilic place, a place I would imagine has a large population of bike riders, was the town, segregated, as if the two entities town and campus were from different planets. The day wore on as we looked at student housing from hell. The campus so beautiful, the housing so wretched. Wretched in the sense, dirty, broken down, overpriced. The slum lord “humph” property management companies that represented these owners are just as suspect. We did finally choose a clean apartment that also seems well managed. This was just plain luck. But, then I got to wondering. Why is it that this town had such $hitty housing and has set their standards somewhere in the vicinity of the gutter?

This wondering and thinking is troubling. Low standards. What the market will bear. Cutting corners. Squeezing an extra buck out of your clients. More for you and less for me. This is what got me thinking how this is an example of the “herd mentality”. If most property owners agree to low standards then the client accepts the low standards and is drawn into the herd. No wonder the campus looked so good to us. It was a safe haven from the scuzzy interiors of town housing.

Aimless. Zoning regulation is another concept the hurd follows. The town is aimless. Take away the campus and it is just another town in America that has seen main street deteriorate in the past 35 years. Nearby development is the blah blah blah of fast food, strip mall, parking lot, super signage ugliness that is indistinguishable and without imagination. I asked myself. What master planner planned towns and cities to develop this senseless god foresaken and unnatural place? What is the aim? How does it affect the consciousness of us? What has it turned you and I into?

Me. I write a blog. I rant about riding bikes and leaving your car behind. To answer the affront of the spawling retail ugliness is to maintain higher personal standards. To answer the policy of brainless zoning is to limit buying from these souless marketplaces. To answer the corporate cheap cookie cutter sameness that maximizes profits over place is to leave your car behind and bicycle ride when you have to make purchases.  In the end we can’t stop buying , it’s all about cash flow. Your cash and how and when it flows does make a big difference. Make as few purchases as possible from these Fugly carcentric places. As a symbolic gesture a bike ride into the hell of retail suburbia weither it’s in a small town or big city, gives the message that we care for place as we make the choice to be part of that space, naturally. Leave your carkeys behind and choose to bike ride if you care about the place you call home town.


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