Sprawled Out

Since the inauguration, I imagine our new President feels a bit like a rag doll, the way everyone's been tugging him this way or that way, trying to fit so many visions for our future into the stimulus package. If what passed yesterday in both houses really is the New New Deal, the programs enacted as part of it will be historic and exemplary, a real blueprint for what our new economy, and by extension our culture, will be. The things we throw money at as part of our economic recovery are the pillars we hope can hoist us out of this big, sagging mess of a recession.

And so, it was with swelling heart that I read the following excerpt from an interview the President gave in Florida recently:

Not only do we need to rebuild our roads, our bridges, our ports, our levies, our dams, but we also have to plan for the future. This is the same example of turning crisis into opportunity…Now, look, this is America. We always had the best infrastructure. We were always willing to invest in the future. Governor Crist mentioned Abraham Lincoln. In the middle of the Civil War, in the midst of all this danger and peril, what did he do? He helped move the intercontinental railroad. He helped start land grant colleges. He understood that even when you’re in the middle of crisis, you’ve got to keep your eye on the future. So transportation is not just fixing our old transportation systems but its also imaging new transportation systems.

That’s why I’d like to see high speed rail where it can be constructed. That’s why I would like to invest in mass transit because potentially that’s energy efficient and I think people are a lot more open now to thinking regionally in terms of how we plan our transportation infrastructure. The days where we’re just building sprawl forever, those days are over. I think that Republicans, Democrats, everybody recognizes that that’s not a smart way to build communities. So we should be using this money to help spur this kind of innovative thinking when it comes to transportation. That will make a big difference.

I for one, really believe that condensing our cities and making them more livable will bring about the right kind of development and can strengthen our social structures. And this will be huge in configuring the next economic era. It's just nice to hear someone more powerful than little old me agree.