Projects Across Michigan Take On Sprawl
Sprawl in the U.P.
December 1, 1997 | By Keith Schneider
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service
Most Michigan residents would think that the sparsely-populated Keewanaw Peninsula is immune from sprawl. That, however, is not the case. West of Marquette, strip malls and one-story big box retailers dominate the landscape.
A New Progressive Movement
* Earl Blumenauer, a former Commissioner of Public Works in Portland, Oregon, was elected to Congress in 1996 by stressing environmental protection, curtailing sprawl, strengthening neighborhoods, and encouraging alternative forms of transportation. He thus became the first federal lawmaker to run and win on a land use platform.
Mr. Blumenauer is organizing a Congressional Caucus on Liveable Communities, in which legislators will study land use issues and make suggestions for improvements in public policy.
* The Surface Transportation Policy Project, a national coalition to end America's 50-year-old policy of building new roads. Instead, the group advocates directing resources to repairing old roads and encouraging cheaper, less damaging alternatives, like railways and other forms of mass transit.
* Taxpayers For Common Sense, which works to eliminate federal subsidies and pork barrel projects that not only waste billions of dollars, but also encourage over-development of the countryside and sensitive ecosystems.
* The American Farm Land Trust, which works with farmers to save prime crop land from being engulfed by suburban sprawl. It is the fastest growing national environmental group, with membership doubling in the past three years to 30,000.
What ties these groups together? Three big ideas:
1). The budget deficit, which has become a powerful tool for activists to argue for an end to wasteful tax policies and destructive subsidies.
2). The environment. The right to clean air and water has now become a core value for a majority of the American people.
3). A longing for real communities. Across the political spectrum, Americans are calling for new policies that make neighborhoods and cities worth living in again.u