I originally penned this as a letter, hence the first-person pronouns, but it is written formally and for a larger audience. After writing it, I realized the timeliness of it squared well with events the public has been discussing for a great deal, but provided a fresh new outlook that has received very little attention nation or worldwide.
Death of the EV1 Electric Car
I guess I should give some of you a head's up on the General Motors recall of the EV1 electric car. It will probably be the topic of discussion not only in California and Arizona, where it was leased, but probably everywhere in the English-speaking world, where a new documentary about the "death" of the car will be distributed. Certain details about the forced recall and dismantling of the perfectly good electric vehicle will leave many feeling angry and powerless. This will become even more frustrating as it becomes clear that the methods suggested to rectify the oligarchy or monopoly of carbon-based fuels have been attempted and folded on the scrap pile shortly after implementation.
The good news, however, is that only supply-side methods have been exhausted. If GM/Toyoda/Ford/Honda and others shake off reform, there is still the option of dispensing with past attempts to alter the global and national auto industry, and go forward with re-planning our own local communities. The good news gets better. That's because the traditional heavy-duty activism that failed in the past is unnecessary. All the is needed is the act of repealing a portion of our zoning laws, which currently prevent small shops from opening in suburban neighborhoods.
I don't know the preferences of the people I'm emailing ed- I batched it to several people- although I've spoken at length with all of you on different issues- but I find the small shops that used to make up the life of Downtown, America, charming places. Indeed, most people do, which explains all the sentimental songs about the small 'pre-retail chain' businesses. The problem is, many of us have moved away from downtown, and are unable to walk to the mega complexes that replaced them.
Imagine if they came to us. They would, if we let them. It is only a matter of zoning restrictions in residential areas, and changing them should only take a few chairmen in local government. Starting the change only takes a few conversations with retired individuals with the free time to begin campaigning at the local level.
Problem: An apprehensive real estate industry, and perhaps some homeowners. This can easily be combated by convincing homeowners that potential homeowners will not be deterred from moving into neighborhoods with small retail businesses. This can be done by giving testimonials that you also find small retail businesses charming, and that you value the ability to walk short distances to buy a few grocery items.
The hang up is when the inevitable issue of crime arises. Along with crowding and pollution, crime was a primary reason many migrated to the suburbs in the first place, and to the minds of many in suburban areas, places of commerce are associated with crime, and many occurrences of home-invasion haven't dissuaded that notion. Unfortunately, armed robbery is more likely where money is exchanged, and solutions for stopping it is where any chance of a consensus starts breaking down.
Some will see shop owners keeping an armed vigil as a solution for deterring crime, but many others will be strongly opposed to firearms showing up in their neighborhoods. Others will think cameras are a solution, but still many more will despair at the lack of privacy right next to their homes. Still others will advocate a solution in community policing, but this very well may spark the ire of those afraid of guns, and those fearing the loss of their privacy.
They'd only come to a consensus that the prospect of crime is undesirable, but can't agree on how to prevent it. But perhaps there is a way. Security solutions don't have to be homogenous, after all. Guns here, police there, and maybe some other place will actually settle on gates and fences. Or do nothing and continue with the long commutes.