Leafy Countryside or Busy Street?

Leafy Countryside or Busy Street?

Many reading these words have seen the  Stowe area transform from a quaint town and countryside with eroded storefronts and faded farm houses to the Resort Town and second home paradise it is today.

I discovered Stowe for the first time with my family in 1967, at the age of three. We returned consistently, several times a year, after this. In 1984, I returned alone. I rented a room at the top of Upper Stowe Hollow. I loved the drive up the gently winding hill, leaving behind the agglomeration of businesses to gradually reach a more secluded setting. The change that occurred between the summers of ’84 and ’85 was remarkable. The twilight that had revealed a few sparse homes between expanses of treetops and fields was replaced by additional living room lights. How did so many homes sprout up in a year?

Edward L. Glaeser, professor of economics at Harvard University and City Journal contributing editor, states that, “Americans who settle in leafy, low-density suburbs will leave a significantly deeper carbon footprint, it turns out, than Americans who live cheek by jowl in urban towers… Much local environmentalism, in short, is bad for the environment. The lifestyle that Thoreau preferred, living surrounded by green space, tends to be far less kind to the planet.” This is because country folks tend to rely on individual transportation more. Also, independent houses use more fuel and electricity for climate control than apartment complexes do.

However, there are Eco-friendly advantages to City Living as well as Country Living, according to a former LA resident who created “The Human Blog”, after moving to Taos. City Living lends itself to more public transportation, walkable neighborhoods, a better selection of goods, co-housing and less lawn maintenance/pesticides.

Country Living, on the other hand, means less idling cars sitting in traffic, less pollution, plenty of land to grow your own food, the ability in some climates to live off-grid, more bike-friendly roads, more access to fresh fruits & veggies due to more local farmers, easier to set up composting and the ability to have your own animals for food.

Contrary to popular belief, this is not an all or nothing world. The countryside is not necessarily in peril due to additional construction not any more than the city is a bad place because it is not the country. I have come across several points of view regarding the age-old country versus city debate and no longer believe that there is a debate. People in the city can be just as environmentally conscious and socially responsible and calm and healthy as people in the country. It is how we live that makes the difference, not where we live. Every day of every year, there are influential people out there who ponder this and gradually contribute to a changing environment… and you and I and the neighbors are just as likely as anyone else to be “influential people” simply by virtue of the choices we make.


Edward L. Glaeser – Professor of economics at Harvard University and City Journal contributing editor.

The Good Human Blog– Taos, NM

Leave a Reply