Friday, November 21, 2008

Landscape and Responsibility

The following quote--though not specifically about Vermont, does give a broad view of historical "progress". (Italics are mine.)

By the end of the nineteenth century the majority of Americans were already living in towns and cities; the majority of Americans, that is, had pretty well broken their ties with the rural landscape and had begun to forget the role that the landscape had once played in the formation of their character and identity. I do not mean to imply that the new industrial order invariably meant a lowering of the quality of the environment of the average American. Quite the contrary: many small farmers and farm laborers were happy to exchange their exhausted acres and squalid houses for less strenuous work in a factory and a home in a company town. . . . Furthermore, the urban American found that all significant experiences, good or bad, now usually took place in the company of many other people, often strangers, and in environments owned or controlled either by the public authority or by a corporation: factory, office, or store; beach, park, or sports arena--environments for which the average citizen did not and could not feel any responsibility.

John Brinckerhoff Jackson, Discovering the Vernacular Landscape, pp. 62-63.

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