Smart Growth is an Answer that We Can All Buy

By Martin Bierbaum

Part I
We left the city to lessen the pace,
To the suburbs we went to claim our own space,

The car and the phone eased the short move,
The transition for most was both easy and smooth,

Few had an interstate highway system in mind,
Less thought that a 3-car family would lead to this bind,

Strip malls and single-use would both soon abound,
Who could have foreseen what we have found,

But low-interest financing for all of those loans,
What novel ways to pay for our homes,

None of this process followed any broad plan,
Fragmented decision-making is the way that it ran,

Yet the result of all this action has been,
The suburbanized state that we now live in.

Part II
Reactions and Counter trends are beginning to take place,
They mask suburbia with a new kind of face,

Highways are no longer the unqualified need,
Concrete and asphalt can't guarantee speed,

Environmental goals affect how we think,
History and open space provide a new link,

Meanwhile cities and towns once too tarnished to shine,
Become places where yuppies and graying boomers now dine,

Condos and co-ops facilitate their return,
For the lawns and the snow they no longer yearn,

Since the 1980's immigrants further fuel this trend,
To street activity and businesses they lend,

Remaining are issues of race and of course class,
The courts refuse to provide us a pass,

Problems of job match and housing we still face,
How can they both fit in just one place?

Part III
But what is this smart growth that we have in mind?
There are too many definitions-can there be just one kind?

Fix-it-First is what we do with our roads,
While we come to rely on alternative modes,

Encouraging growth where we already are,
Reduces the commute from near and so far,

Infrastructure expense is also less dear,
Such sweet music to the taxpayers' ear,

The suburbs we know will continue to grow,
But perhaps at a rate a bit more slow,

With cities and towns sharing in wealth,
These places now restored to better health,

Smart Growth is an answer that we'd like to try,
Smart Growth is an answer that we can all buy.