So look, I don’t want to be a negative nancy, I really don’t. I would much rather talk and write about the abundant wonder and beauty of this world. But it’s impossible for me to think or speak about the development of the Front Range and put on a happy face.

I think the most fundamental of all civic values, of the ideas that guide how we interact with one another, is to tell the truth. The basic unit of any successful, healthy, happy society, is that when I speak to you, you can trust that I’m telling you what I think and believe to be true. And so, if I speak to you about development on the Front Range, with anything resembling a happy face, then I am abdicating my basic civic duty, because I am lying to you.

The unvarnished truth is that I am aghast, appalled and horrified; frightened, saddened and angered by the course of development along the Front Range. What I see is a disaster unfolding in time-lapse slow motion; a corporate-profit- driven, suburban monocultural virus eroding the localized culture of extant communities, and destroying the country that my heart has always recognized as home.

It’s gotten to the point where I think, maybe I’m the crazy one. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks it’s a really bad idea to cover the landscape with asphalt and concrete, and then fill it up with gray and brown square blobs. Maybe I’m the only one who feels my human spirit darkening and diminishing when I enter and move through these colorless, sterile, devoid-of-nature new landscapes. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks that this everything-the-same kind of infrastructure actively discourages creative thought, disables our imagination, acts as an obstacle rather than an aid for our desire to live with a sense of community, and destroys the natural beauty that is what makes this such a special place.

But then I see headlines full of opioid epidemics and school shootings, of increasing economic stress and polarized broken-down governance; and above all, of the fact that our mode of living is turning the very planet, our own and only earth, into a place where humans won’t be able to actually live anymore. I see all that and it affirms that no, I’m not at all the crazy one; that no, I definitely cannot put on a happy face.

And that I cannot stay silent in my corner any longer; that to do so betrays both my own values, and my obligation to my community. I believe in the wonder and beauty of life in this world; I believe, wholeheartedly, in our capacity to love, and to work together and create goodness for each other, motivated and driven by the world’s wonder and beauty. But we have to find the courage now to recognize the deeply flawed nature of what we have wrought. We have to come back to a discourse of how we build our communities, that’s inspired by natural beauty and grounded in a practice of love.