Wednesday, February 8, 2012

'Original Green' author to speak in Charlotte

Steven Mouzon, whose book Original Green makes the point that environmentally sensitive living requires more than what he dubs "gizmo green" gadgets, will give a public lecture in Charlotte on Wednesday Feb. 15.

Sponsored by the Charlotte Department of Transportation and the local chapter of the Urban Land Institute, Mouzon's talk will be at 6 p.m. in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, Room 267.

Mouzon, an architect and author, is founder of the New Urban Guild in Miami, "a group of architects, designers and other New Urbanists dedicated to the study and design of true traditional buildings and places native to, and inspired by, the regions in which they are built."

One of the things I find interesting about Mouzon's writing is that, to my mind, he's an illustration of how New Urbanism can't be so easily pigeonholed as "liberal" or "conservative." He writes in his blog, for instance, that Original Green is what we had "before the Thermostat Age," when "the places we made and the buildings we built had no choice but to be green."

I'm not sure if trying to return to the building and living styles of old can be considered anything other than conservative, but as I wrote in "Is sustainability for Commies?" there's a school of thought that anyone who mentions protecting the environment or conserving energy must be a Marxist who'll rip people from their cars and subdivision houses and force-march them into Pruitt-Igoe-style high-rises. Note the Gaston County commissioners' action late last month: "County leaders identify ‘insidious’ threat of Agenda 21."

In an unfortunate architectural convergence, the UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture, the Charlotte Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and the Mint Museum of Art have planned another architectural lecture for the same night: Craig Dykers of the firm SnΓΈhetta will give a lecture about his firm's work. It's at the UNC Charlotte Center City Building. A reception is at 5 p.m., and the lecture at 6 p.m. Both are free and open to the public, but require registration here.


Dialectic Voyeur said...

In reading this entry, I had to go to your "Is sustainability for Commies?" piece. And I found this: "Think about it: Wouldn't big-government socialists be the ones wanting regulations to override private ownership, via single-family-housing zoning?"

I’m thinking about your rhetorical question. My first thought is a rhetorical ‘no.’ Or ‘no, not necessarily.’ A few of those owners might be true ideological conservatives, but I’d bet they are in the minority. The others are highly paid professionals or corporate/business types. They may hold a general view favoring ‘free-markets’ but they are not what one would call ideologues. If pressed, however, all of them would say they’ve got a half-million to $2M-$3M in their property and they are quite satisfied with the current zoning rules for their neighborhood. They probably would not see the issue as one of free-markets v. government regulations, and within the historical context of how those properties developed over decades, they would be correct in that view.
On the other hand, should the city decide that a significant portion of Barclay Downs needed to be rezoned to benefit the overall community, then you’ve got a clear example of government (big or small) v. individual private property rights.

But my main interest in responding is to suggest you bury the rhetoric of the Right in the phrase “big-government socialists” even if used in jest. It’s as bad, for example, as referring to the Affordable Care Act as “Obamacare”’—not that you’ve used that term.


Steve Mouzon said...

Just seeing this post, Mary... thanks! FWIW, and as I might have mentioned Wednesday night, it's my goal that at the end of each presentation, nobody should have a clue how I voted in the last election because if we're to achieve sustainability, we've got to have all hands on deck, not just half of us. So I'm delighted you noted that in this post.

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