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What Does Beauty Have to Do With Sustainability?

10:44 AM EST on February 24, 2009

Today on the Streetsblog Network, we step back and take a look at a philosophical question, courtesy of Kaid Benfield at NRDC Switchboard. As we go forward into the 21st century, trying to create sustainable communities, how do we deal with the aging relics of the 20th century's development patterns?

3305919757_5176ed4360_m.jpgCan we make beauty a criterion for preservation? Photo by Sarah Goodyear.

Are we going to start saving Walmarts, which the National Trust has opposed in one community after another, when they are 50 years old just because they are 50 years old?  The date is not all that far away.  And, make no mistake: they will be representative of a period and style of architecture.  If that's the principal test, they will pass.  What about urban freeways that sliced through and destroyed historic neighborhoods?  They, too, are now part of history.

Benfield argues that using beauty as a criterion for preservation could help. But who is to define it? Read what he has to say and let us know what you think.

Big news and an invitation from our friends at Transportation for America: This Thursday, Feb. 26, at 10:30am, they'll be rolling out their national campaign platform, which calls on the president and Congress "to launch a new federal transportation mission that puts an end to America's oil dependency, helps us compete and thrive in the 21st century, and brings opportunity to all Americans." It'll be held at the U.S. Capitol, and if you're in DC you should head on over to hear people like Rep. Earl Blumenauer talk about the future of transportation in America.

Plus: Trains for America has news about the possibility of more funding for high-speed rail, Greater Greater Washington highlights the concerns of older pedestrians, and The Overhead Wire talks about dedicated funding sources for mass transit.

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