Village’s Sustainability Plan or Global Diabolical Plot?
In a quiet Rust Belt community nestled amidst a farming culture and bible belt country, we heard murmurs last Monday night at the City Council meeting of a global socialist conspiracy creeping into the University Village area called “Agenda 21”.
Marta Moody from Delaware-Muncie Metropolitan Planning Commission introduced Council to a resolution recommending a new University Village Overlay District for the struggling Village area east and south of Ball State campus. According to Marta Moody and confirmed on the Delaware-Muncie Comprehensive Plan website:
The purpose of the University Village Overlay District (the “District”) is to ensure future development and redevelopment in the commercial village area and surrounding neighborhood adjacent to the Ball State University campus is in accordance with the principles established in the University Village Area Development Plan, adopted in 2001 and incorporated into the Muncie-Delaware County Comprehensive Plan.
Seems like straightforward planning and zoning language. In fact, there is now a commission in charge of the Village’s development. The goal is to attract dollars into the area and utilize more modern urban design principles.
However, a local citizen warned Council members and those attending, “The root cause behind the sustainable design efforts in the Village are due to Agenda 21 and we should all be concerned.”
Depending on who you want to listen to, Agenda 21 was first outlined in a 1992 United Nations report warning us about how our global infrastructure—agriculture, transportation, and energy systems—would be fundamentally compromised by warming of just a few more degrees. According to many of the climate change scientists in the report, if our global society refuses to act soon, we will reach a point where our environment will heat up beyond return.
Far fetched? One only has to remember last years photos of crops drying up in the fields causing millions of dollars in crop damage for which taxpayers got to fund the losses. The western states are starting to dry up and there is even less snow melting down from the Rocky’s than before. Not a good sign for this year either.
However, if you prefer to listen to the fired Fox News analyst, Glenn Beck, who actually purchased the legal rights to be considered the creator of a book called Agenda 21, as well as the ultraconservative entity, Scaife Foundation, or the Tea Party’s very own Koch Brothers, who are known to fund many larger anti-environmental disinformation campaigns, they would have us believe that policies aimed at “preserving our environment” are the true threat to our future.
Why? Maybe because most of the investments and business dealings are known for destroying the environment, so any government regulation of their businesses must be “evil”.
Beck has suggested, “Support for environmental policies is a diabolical plot to create a socialist world government that now rules the planet and has been called “The Republic” as a classic reference to Plato’s masterpiece.”
We reviewed the Overlay District document, and there was mention of “sustainability” as it pertains to “University Village should serve as a model for best redevelopment practices as it relates to stormwater management, green building design, energy conservation, and construction practice.”
There is nothing threatening or diabolical about this language.
In fact, these are admirable initiatives that should be considered the new normal for all projects in the 21st century. In a recent Muncie Redevelopment Commission meeting, Dan Allen mentioned that Asheville, NC used progressive urban design theories to resurrect their downtown. We’ve visited Asheville many times and their strategy has resulted in substantial growth and development centered around new aged culture, entertainment, and creative dining experiences.
The Downtown Action Plan incorporated many ideas brought about due to sustainable designs which use creative plans for existing buildings, parking lots and green space.
Actually using theses newer urban design principles also appeals to younger demographics who find walkability and bikability, or sustainable practices, very attractive. Demographic data reveals that the 24-32 year old crowd are 30% less likely to purchase a car, and prefer biking or mass transit.
Therefore, incorporating these practices will attract new residents to the Muncie community, and might retain some of the Ball State graduates who have historically left our town for more progressive communities. We’ve thought that rehabbing our vacant housing stock in neighborhoods between the Village and Downtown area could be leased at discounted rates to young entrepreneurs graduating from BSU who want to develop new companies in our market.
Do we need to fear sustainable concepts? Hardly. We should be embracing them and even demanding them from our local government.
Since the Resolution was just introduced in April, we might receive more warnings from Glenn Beck followers next month. It might be entertaining, so mark your calendar for May 6th @ 7:30pm.
For us, we’ll close with a review of Glenn Beck’s book by Michael Mann, a climate scientist and director of Penn State’s Earth System Science Center:
Bad science is hardly the greatest sin in Agenda 21. The real problem is its transparent agenda to sow distrust and cynicism in good faith efforts to protect our environment. The great works of dystopian fiction yield lucid, cautionary tales of the potential dangers that may lurk in our future—be they nuclear holocaust, environmental catastrophe, or the subjugation by machine overlords—if we make imprudent choices in the present. The very worst of the genre, however, do the opposite; they obscure an actual looming threat (e.g. human-caused climate change) by instead drawing our attention away to a false, manufactured one. Nothing could be more dangerous or misguided than a screed like Agenda 21 that attempts to do just that.