Seventy-five years ago, a man named Arthur Morgan had published an essay called “The Community – The Seedbed of Society.”
He expostulated that to erode small-town culture is to erode the culture of the nation. In this essay, and later in a book titled “The Small Community: Foundation of Democratic Life,” Morgan argued on behalf of small towns, which he believed had been abandoned by modernity to be despised, neglected and exploited.
Although many big-city residents do not worry about the fate of small towns, Morgan believed they should because the roots of civilization are good will, neighborliness, fair play, tolerance, open-minded inquiry and patience, elements found far more often in small towns than in big towns or cities.
That brings us to Waynesville and its possible fate if it is allowed to become a suburb of Asheville and if development moves beyond town areas, as planners seem to be currently discussing, and expands into farms, green areas, or wild areas which offer protection and habitats to animals.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in one of its publications (see their web site) warns that many rural communities and small towns are facing disturbing challenges, including rapid growth at the edge of metropolitan edges and loss of farms and working lands. They suggest the following:
• Plan where development should not go instead of only where it should go.
• Adopt policies that protect the rural landscape, preserve open space, protect air and water quality and provide places for recreation.
• Adopt policies that support walking, biking and public transit to cut down the air pollution caused by too many cars.
On the west shore of Tampa Bay there is a small town called Safety Harbor. In 2017 the then current mayor Joe Ayoub stated he intended to define and preserve Safety Harbor’s “small-town charm.”
One of the ways in which he meant to do that was to make certain that new buildings were compatible with existing neighborhoods, similar to Biltmore’s demands of any new buildings erected there. Other towns which are named as utilizing “smart growth” principles are Jupiter, Florida, in its Abacoa area (preserving open space and farmland), Louisville, Kentucky, with the East Russell area (community collaboration in development decisions), DuPont, Washington, with its Northwest Landing area (creating walkable neighborhoods.)
Perhaps the point has been made; if Waynesville is allowed to grow too fast and too much, it will lose all its’ quaint and friendly small-town charm.
To close, here are a few miscellaneous quotes found on Dom’s Plan B. “A street is a spatial entity and not the residue between buildings.” (anonymous) “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” (Yogi Berra) “We must not build housing, we must build communities.” (Mike Burton) and a last one: “…Creating and revitalizing places that foster conviviality is essential to the good life.” (Mark C. Childs)
JoAnna Swanson lives in Waynesville.