Let’s Improve the Buildings We Already Have

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI’ve never actually hugged a tree.

Once when I was 3 or 4 years old, I did lean up against what I called the “wire tree” and got tar all over my clothes. I don’t guess that counts. 

Wire tree was what I called the light pole in the corner of our yard. Yes, I was adorable. Sticky, but adorable.

Our subdivision was relatively new. That’s why all the wire trees still had fresh tar on them.

There were several houses already, but also several vacant lots. Across the street from our house was a cotton field that became snow white each year until the new houses gobbled it up.

I realize the need for growth. But from my vantage point today, the sprawl in every direction seems unnecessary.

We’re clear cutting woods and sacrificing farmland to throw up new houses and apartments while perfectly good residences sit abandoned. It’s the same with businesses.

One of my passions is downtown redevelopment. A few weeks ago, Kim, a few other people from town and I went to an event called a downtown retail summit.

We heard authorities from all over the country talk about ways to spur investment in downtown areas.

Have you been downtown in your town lately? The buildings are old and made of brick. They were built to last. They’re not stuck together with vinyl siding and thrown up in a couple of weeks.

Those buildings matter.

The speakers talked about innovative steps cities are taking to breathe life into downtown areas.

They hammered again and again the need for local governments to do things like offer tax incentives and soften restrictions on old buildings.

Places with that kind of leadership are seeing success.

Over the course of the day, we heard lots of pie-in-the-sky stuff, but a point one of the speakers made stuck with me.

He said that every five bricks in a building represents one gallon of fuel. In other words, it takes one gallon of fuel to build roughly 90 square inches.

That’s about the same surface area as one piece of paper.

I might be wrong, but I don’t think you have to be a tree hugger for that to get your attention.

He said something like, “The green building is the one that’s already there.”

Back in March, Kim and I visited the Pantheon during our trip to Italy.

The Pantheon was built in 126 A.D. It is in excellent condition. It is still in use.

Almost 2,000 years later it remains an engineering marvel. It is exactly 142 feet tall and 142 feet wide. Its 16 columns are 39 feet tall and weigh 60 tons each. They were built in Egypt and somehow floated to Rome when the roads flooded. They still have the rope marks where they were hoisted into place.

Each of the Pantheon’s two front doors is solid bronze and weighs 20 tons. These doors are perfectly balanced and can be pushed open with one hand.

I looked all over the place for a can of WD-40, and I didn’t see one anywhere.

We don’t have any Pantheons over here, and we never will.

What we do have, though, are treasures we should embrace.

We might even save a tree in the process.

About Barry Currin

Barry tries to be funny and poignant, and he's usually satisfied when he succeeds with one or the other. (Being both is awesome. And sometimes that happens.) Email him: currin01@gmail.com

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