I want to thank one of my Treehugger compadres for pointing me to the Dunn Foundation, an organization doing important work on sprawl and the seemingly inevitable homogenization that comes with it. According to the foundation’s website,
America is experiencing a rising tide of commercialism, advertising, poorly-planned development and apathy that is turning our communities into banal replicas of each other. The damage is widespread: billboards and inappropriate signage mar our scenic landscapes, poorly designed, out-of-character buildings and barren asphalt parking lots scar our streetscapes, creeping suburbia is swallowing our wetlands and forests, and winding country lanes are turning into multi-lane highways.
The foundation is combating these phenomena with a multi-pronged approach: visual literacy education, including special programs designed for elementary and middle-school students; collaboration with like-minded organizations; and funding for both efforts. While I’m particularly interested in their work to better integrate built and natural environments, certainly all of the elements the Foundation addresses work together to create a more sustainable sense of place. As we talk so much about diversity in nature, I wonder what kinds of social psychological effects diversity in built environments has. Anyone have a sense of the benefits created by communities with a clear sense of unique identity?