“Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher ‘standard of living’ is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free. For us of the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important that television.”
― Aldo Leopold
Gilbert is one of the most rapidly growing cities in the country. Six years ago, we sold our house in another fast growing part of the country, Loudoun county. I think that the Gilbert you see today on your way to school and around town is turning into something new. The farms and green spaces are yielding to developments and strip malls.
In May of 2012, Gilbert subdivision Morrison Ranch converted the last square mile of farm land in Gilbert to developed land. The Phoenix Art Museum has an exhibit that explores the changing face of Gilbert. Matthew Moore’s exhibit in the Marshall and Hendler galleries is featured from February 11 – June 10, 2012. The art museum offers a free or voluntary donation on Wednesdays from 3 to 9PM.
I read Matthew Moore, a 4th generation farmer in the Phoenix area, in my paper. He turned his fields into statements about development, I’ll let you read it in his words, I copied the text from the Arizona Republic:
“I’m always on both sides of this,” he says. “I hate to lose the land, but at the same time, 253 homes get plopped on that land, and I realized these are homes and these are families that are moving in here and living on property that we’ve had to ourselves for 70 years. But how can that be a bad thing?
“Yeah, the model is bad, and the sense of place is wrong. But those are different questions than just saying suburbia is bad.
“Just stopping the development isn’t going to solve the human condition.”
His art is about this long look. It contrasts the need to feed people with the need to house them.
“Suburbia sucks,” he says. “But you don’t just stop it. You have to come up with a model that makes sense for the transition.”
Transition to what?
“Something more sustainable, maybe.”
Have human beings ever done anything sustainable?
“Good point,” he says. “We’re not really great at it.”
Moore is best known for the art he made on his farm. Actually, art he made from his farm.
In 2005, he took a 35-acre chunk of his land and planted wheat and sorghum in alternating areas in a design that echoed the street plans of the surrounding housing development. From the air, it looked very like the tract housing.
In an earlier piece, he created a giant floor plan of a tract home by weeding lines out of a wheat field.
So how does this make me feel, writing from my home in a development? I look out my window and there is another house, or six. I enjoy nature and the change of seasons by bobbing and weaving between encroachment to find the washes and the wildflowers. I know folks like the Morrison Ranch family and Johnston Family (Joe’s Farm Grill) love Gilbert. I hope other builders who expand and leave their mark on Gilbert are careful to integrate our past into our future.
What parts of your hometown do you love? What landmarks make you feel at home?
From next door,