Blog: David Knapp

David Knapp is not only an architectural designer with Albert Kahn Associates, he's an accredited LEED professional who understands the ins and outs of sustainable development. An active community leader, David will be writing about  sustainability and urban housing trends in Metro Detroit.

Post No. 1: A Time Of Crisis

Recall shortly after 9/11 we saw gas prices soar to over $3.00/gallon. Today, we see gas prices peak above $4.00/gallon with seemingly no end in sight. Both instances: crises. 

The first; an unfortunate price gouging at the expense of terrified American consumers, the second; market forces finally catching up with the destruction of our own devices.

While what I’m about to say will sound absolutely asinine, I can’t tell you what a relief it is to see gas prices climb so high. I didn’t think it would happen so soon!  Finally, we’re literally paying for the choices we’ve made for the lifestyles we had! 

Whether it’s losing a home on foreclosure, purchasing the dreamy oversized-SUV or deciding that driving an average of 50 minutes each day is an efficient way to spend our time and money. At the time we made these consumption-based decisions, the ideal of overall cost or total ownership costs were things never considered. 

Oh yeah, and one more minor thing… was there ever any consideration of how our decisions would impact our environment? Right. I thought so.

The reality is we’re in a crisis. Not just a gasoline price crisis, but an urban crisis.  We’re in a housing crisis (one in which the federal government has had to significantly bail us out of), an environmental crisis (which no one seems to really care about in truly understanding the severity of it), an economic crisis and a social crisis. 

Some issues are of much greater concern than others. Some are local and some global.   

Here in Metro Detroit, like most other parts of the country, all of these issues are intrinsically linked and highly visible. It’s a part of our culture. It has been for a century. As a result, a lot of us here have jumped ship for greener pastures. 

But I ask, are these pastures really greener? Sure, in the short-run, but how about in 20 years when watersheds in the southwest evaporate and can’t replenish themselves and Merriam-Webster has to redefine the word drought?  How will moving further north beyond the M-59 corridor impact our long-term commute times? As housing patterns continue to push further away from our economic center that is Detroit, what will that vision of bucolic living that some of us desire look like 10 years from now?   

The centric problem with all of the issues stated above is that it’s in our cultural mindset to think only in the short-term. We think only for now, and not about what impact our actions today will bear in the future. 

The intent of this series of blog posts is to briefly touch upon some of the ramifications of how we’ve chosen to live and develop our land, and how it’s now finally beginning to catch up on us, and how if we don’t plan for the future today, we’ll only bury ourselves further in this seemingly insurmountable struggle that we’re dealing with today.