Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Plant an olive tree!

Probably not literally, though, since they don't seem to tolerate "winter" very well in places like Minnesota, and I'd have to guess that they wouldn't tolerate the rain in Florida very well, either.

What I'm getting at is an application of an old proverb; "You plant olive trees for your grandchildren." We don't do that very well in our country; it seems that whatever we do is designed for our own use--50 years is a long, long time for us. We have no 6th century churches or roads dating back to Julius Caesar, after all.

The trouble with that, of course, is that we can reasonably expect that our grandchildren might be around 100 or more years from now. Maybe it's time to seriously expand the time frame we're designing our lives around.

Plant an olive tree, if you catch my drift.


Shawn said...

Unfortunately, 'sustainability'/'green development' advocates have been taking exactly this premise and utilizing it to make us poorer today...or 'preserve resources for future generations', whatever that means.

What, precisely, do you mean by planting an olive tree? Seems to me that we do that in a lot of different ways already, so elucidate me.

Bike Bubba said...

We do, to be sure, to an extent. In some ways, however, we certainly don't.

Observe all those orange cones on your drive to work. Did you know that some sections of Roman roads have stood, unrepaired, for two millenia? If you visited Rome on your honeymoon, you probably walked some of 'em. You certainly saw some buildings that were truly built to last, no?

That's the kind of thing I'm getting at; not "preserving" resources for future generations, but rather using them in such a way that future generations will benefit.

Shawn said...

hmm. those buildings were propaganda for the state. I'm not phenomenally excited about the idea of state-funded crazy-long-lasting buildings.

The question is: what should we build that should last for hundreds of years? Houses? Hmm, maybe...maybe not...maybe in 100 years housing will be so drastically different that it won't be worth the extra cost and effort that we put into building 'future-proofed' buildings.

It's a fine line, of course, because I don't want things falling apart in 10 years...but I also don't want to misinvest capital that will hurt not only us, but our children.

Bike Bubba said...

Actually, if you take a good walk around most European cities, you'll find large districts of older buildings that were built not by the state, but by the merchants of that city. If you look closely at those, you'll see that the basics of housing design haven't changed much for a millenium or more.

You might change out windows, replace roofing and siding, and add electricity & plumbing, but overall, there are buildings from the Hanseatic era still in use. It just might tell us something very profound, no?