Posted by: Michael George Daniel | February 10, 2010

Letter to the Editor

This letter ran on February 5, 2010 in the Reminder News.

Dear Editor:

A recent interview with Mark Walter, First Selectman of the Town of East Haddam, appeared in the January 15th Reminder News. The article ends with the statement, “We’re optimistic. Luckily we have all of the ingredients to be successful in this town”. But, it also describes old thinking that doesn’t serve the Town well in the coming years. It is useful to offer some alternatives.

Walter’s goal is to return the Town to “its glory days as a tourist destination.” This approach ignores the realities of today’s economy, energy and environment. These are realities of a rapidly changing world not to be undone by a glorious economic revival, or a technological game changer. They can, however, be responded to through prudent localization of our lives, our work and our communities.

The current ‘Village Revitalization Project” is just such an opportunity to reconfigure in a way that serves the people living in Town. This means creating beautiful spaces for which we can care; places that serve our needs for local food, materials, community, culture and spiritual support.

We need rethink enormous investments in roads, and redirect diminishing financial resources toward public transportation and local, walkable communities. Relying on the village success as a “primary tourist stop” misses the point that cheap fossil fuel and the automobiles that guzzle it are on the way out and that there are much better possibilities.

Tax incentive programs burden taxpayers, benefit the owners’ of capital investment funds and most often encourage things that will not serve us in a localized future. It is grounded in the old idea that we need to compete with neighboring towns to “bring in money.”

Every local dollar spent in town will go around seven times. If we collectively decide to create that which is in the best interest of town life, we will attract our residents to spend their time and energy here; we will create a powerful flow of local money, and a richer and more satisfying life for ourselves. We will set up a coherent loop of community life that serves us even through an uncertain future.

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