Opinion: Housing is more than bricks and mortar | Opinion
Housing is more than infrastructure. It’s giving people a place to call home within the larger home of a community. In my words, readers should understand that the message isn’t about bricks and mortar; those are bland and boring. Any person can discriminate against bricks and mortar however they wish. The color of the brick, the amount of mortar or the thickness of glass. No, I hope that you, dear reader, understand that my message is about people.
Separating housing from the people it holds is something we’ve all struggled with at times. “This house belongs to my grandparents.” “This is where my Mom lived when she was a kid.” “I’d walk to play with my best friend at this house.” We can all point to a single house in Traverse City or across America, for that matter, and tell a story about that particular house’s current or former occupants. We’ve associated the house with the people and have included those people in our idea of “home.”
We love downtown. We support NMC. We believe in TCAPS. We want to save the planet. These are all integral to our idea of “home.” And yet we face an opposition to the very thing that does all these things we’re committed to achieving. When did housing become detached from addressing these issues? How does a minute group oppose buildings that will house people and therefore give us all a better ability to tackle the issues at hand? If there are more people doing the work, there’s less work to be done by each individual.
It’s my ambition that Traverse City’s citizens don’t want to continue denying those who wish to live here the opportunity to help us do the work that needs doing. I’ve heard the argument that any single change will dramatically compromise the integrity of the neighborhoods. But I’d like to think that a neighborhood established in integrity welcomes all those who wish to live, work and play there.
I hope my words have conveyed an advocacy for people. For without people, a city is nothing more than empty bricks and wasted mortar. Downtown businesses continue to struggle with staffing. Students in the school system want. Our sprawl destroys more canopy trees, the cerulean waters run muddy and our rolling hills are flattened. The work will remain and the repairs will compile without a dedicated pool of hard working people.
Jean-Paul Sartre stated “commitment is an act, not a word.” It’s time to commit to the act of supporting downtown, properly educating our children and striving to heal the planet.
It’s time to gather more people and get to work before it becomes insurmountable.
So I ask again, how does one oppose people? How does one resist a city welcoming those people? How does one deny future people the ability to tackle the problems we’re compounding? I allow you to come to a conclusion yourself. Though you may not wish to speak it, I believe you know the answer.
About the author: Shea O’Brien is an advocate for inclusive housing and the future of Traverse City. He resides in Traverse City.