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Urban Sprawl

             Urban Sprawl Urban sprawl is not a new phenomenon, and the battle between environmentalists and developers is well-known. But perhaps the issue is not that the land is being utterly stripped of life and replaced by cookie cutter houses or factories, which has been a controversy for decades. Perhaps the fighting has exposed a deeper problem: the American acceptance of a false outside, seen through lawns that mimic interiors. People often perceive that any green space is nature. As Michael Ventura says, "America is form opposed to content" (216). Contractors leave some existing trees on lots not because it may be costly to remove them but because those trees also serve as a selling feature for the houses built between. Most people would rather spend their weekends at an official, regulated and landscaped park rather than hiking through some un-named forest track. While there is the standard human desire for new experiences, people often are only willing to try pre-tested experiences. Even when one realizes the societal manipulation, it still seems difficult to jump over the railings and really cut a new path. So if people are aware that they"re being led by the nose through a sterile, pre-chewed and mocked-up environment, why don't they respond? Here's why: People are simply cannot deal with vast expanses of "nothing." Afterall, it is more or less the American motto to "tame" the wilderness, to take what the land has to offer and use it to better the standard of human living. Just "being there," a more Eastern philosophy, seems only a waste of both money and resources to American thinking. The court system has even ruled several times along the lines that a "loss of open space amounts to an insignificant impact" to dissuade new housing developments ("Preservation Groups Lose Favor"). The planet alone has been deemed worthless without us, a belief which already ties in nicely with some Western religious rationalization, for "the ease of human interface, comfort of use, the accuracy of human perception" (Viola 226).

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