It’s day 24 of Blogvember. I’m following the prompts from Andrew Canion, which can be found here.
It’s become apparent that our infrastructure In this country is not something to take for granted, and it is also something which is too easily taken advantage of. I can think of two examples, off the top of my head, which demonstrate how insistence on infrastructure can be used for ill purposes.
The first is in Albuquerque: years ago, a vote was requested of residents about removing ancient historical artifacts from Native communities in order to extend a road to a part of town with development interests. The people of the city did the right thing and roundly rejected this measure. The following year, those same developers took that defeat and moved it into the roads portion of the vote, signaling the following: if you want to preserve history and respective Native communities and their land, you’ll do so at the expense of the roads you drive on, because we’ll no longer maintain them. Unfortunately, the people without a sacred history seem to have won, which alas is not all that surprising in this country.
The second is in Houston, Texas: in order to address considerable traffic congestion, the city is proposing building even more highways. To do so, hundreds of residents will lose their homes, children will lose their schools, and businesses would be forced to close. Unsurprisingly, this advancement in the name of improved infrastructure would affect mostly “people of color in low-income neighborhoods”.
As I’ve noted previously, I’ve lived through an expansion of a highway that did virtually nothing to actually improve traffic; rather, it increased the traffic demands further.
We are in significant need of reframing what infrastructure means. First and foremost, I believe that means we need to start recognizing that we need to reduce our dependence on cars as a means of transportation, and focus on truly alternative methods of transit (and no, electric cars are not the solution here, because they’re still cars). We also need to emphasize a cultural shift away from consumerism and extreme capitalism; we instead need to focus on quality of life, and finding ensuring that people of many walks of life are able to enjoy it, rather than those with the most resources and privilege. This is a concept called eudaimonia, which I learned from Umair Haque (his writing on the topic is well worth reading, and his writing on economics and history are similarly worthwhile; sadly, right now he also has to write considerably about fascism, the world being what it is right now).
I hope that as we continue to learn and have these conversations, we can focus on eudaimonia and work together towards a better future with a better infrastructure for all.