Monday, February 2, 2009

The Fall Of The Apartment Complex Of Anarchy (And What Is Revealed)

Flickr.com Photo

First of all, don't get me wrong. I'm glad to see 3101 6th St. N. reduced to a hole in the ground. A few days ago, the demo crew was pulling up pieces of the foundation like you would rip out roots to keep a weed from growing back. And I was glad.

But there's something very wrong here, and it's what's wrong with our whole American culture, our whole economy...

WASTE!!!! There was so much waste evident in that demolition. All that steel hitting those two big dumpsters...will it be pulled out, made into new steel objects? Or is it not worth the effort, at $60 a ton? Lumber reduced to toothpicks...plenty of those 2 x 4s could have been useful. Is it only the lowest bid that matters? The guy with the right licenses? Is there no opportunity for green fanatics to go in there with a chainsaw, to recycle and reuse?

Oh...insulation. Yeah, plenty of THAT got wasted.

And, man, that stuff is EXPENSIVE.

A friend of mine named Roland (well, really more of an acquaintance because, well, it's better to call him that because of his, um, lifestyle choices) used to pick up every little scrap of insulation he saw at construction sites, or blowing around on the roadsides from who-knows-what; dump trucks, tornadoes leveling small towns, the pretty pink Fiberglass fairy, here to grant your energy-saving dreams.

Roland would save all those odd pieces in a big utility closet I dubbed "the insulation room," and one day we had enough to insulate the whole basement where I lived, rent free, year after year while attending law school. We insulated with a mixture of fiberglass--yellow and pink--and Styrofoam. It was all recycled.

This Is What's Wrong With Our Whole Economy

We talk about being in a recession, and yet most American homes have enough food in the cupboards to last for weeks, vegetables in the so-called refrigerator "crisper" that will be allowed to gently, peacefully wilt, then be discarded, we have drawers and closets full of unworn clothing, our children have boxes, piles, MOUNTAINS of toys.

Our economic habits are UNSUSTAINABLE. President Obama talks about revitalizing the economy, but who will revitalize the EARTH? We cut down more trees but don't bother to recycle paper, half the students at the University of Minnesota can't cause the flight plan of their plastic beverage bottle to deviate SIX (EXPLETIVE) INCHES to put it in a recycle bin, instead of a trash can.

How is it we are building an "Eco Village" in North Minneapolis, but in demolishing buildings we don't bother to pull out the useful components?

Well, some insulation from that building made its way to my hands. And I plan to use it in a future project. But it was like picking the cherry from a sundae and saying, well, the sundae did not go to waste, for I ate part of it!

So much insulation...wasted.

My frien--er, my ACQUAINTANCE Roland would slowly shake his head. But he'd say very little. Economy of words, that's how he is about such things. He saves his words for the seduction of desperate women from Third World Countries. In any case...

The idea of "spending yourself to prosperity" works, yes, in a wide-open economic system where abundant natural resources create constant inputs of new wealth. It's like the economy of a college student, living on student loans and credit cards. Want to be prosperous? SPEND! Buy a nice suit of clothing to get a job, a computer to make homework easier, a car to get to school and save your time, endless beer to make life grand. SPEND!!!!

So tell me what is the economy of a SPACESHIP, a closed system with finite resources? Is that a place where you eat everything at once, throw out what's left over, because this will create "prosperity" as more is manufactured?

We need to transition to a green and sustainable economy. And using the old economic theory of "spend yourself to prosperity" is not the way to do it. We need to develop new economic theories based on the FINITE AND LIMITED nature of all our resources.

Crack, Crack, Who's Got Some Crack?

These are the things I thought about as I watched 3101 6th St. N. demolished.

And then I saw crackheads going to make buys at 3101 6th St. N., and I thought how the end of the mortgage redemption period couldn't come fast enough on THAT place.

Yeah, sometimes the "spend like there is no tomorrow" mindset isn't all bad, and there is a silver lining in the dark cloud of the mortgage crisis, as we remake our neighborhood. Better to waste a little insulation than to allow that hellhole apartment complex to come back, and become a center of drug dealing, AGAIN.

But the world could be better, more perfect, more utopian...and I think there is a way to take down a building and salvage useful components, right down to scraps of insulation.

4 comments:

Jeanie Hoholik said...

Ahem, if I didn't know any better, I'd say that looks like a beginning of a yummy hunk of phyllo for baklava. mmmm...yum!

Let it go, she's a gonner. (Gonner, a new aged word for something that is lost forever.)

Anonymous said...

Do you know if the construction crews care if you take away some of the materials at a demolition? I have my eye on some nice landscaping timbers and a privacy fence at a tear down by my house.

I was thinking the same thing, but more from a selfish economics side of things. I should I spend money on something, when I can just take it from the house about to be tore down.

Do other people do this?

Margaret said...

I agree there's waste but here's a thought. I've lived in some third world countries that aren't so wasteful about demolition and stuff gets recycled but it's BAD stuff. Like asbestos and lead etc. Same thing with whole houses and code. There are some costs to pay for safety and progress and this is one of them.

jhop said...

I thought it was a shame for the demo crews to waste all that material. As soon as your story was posted, those thoughts came to mind.

Agreed, our wasteful way of thinking must stop. Recycle everything you can and eat what you serve. I store leftovers and *try* to eat them at a later point. Sometimes they do go to waste. We all could learn to be more economical and easy on the planet.