Three responses to whether suburbanites can successfully steward land and nature

In unveiling a proposed development on a 700+ acre parcel in Lake County, one of the family members who currently own the land said this:

Photo by u00dcnsal Demirbau015f on

“We are committed to providing long-term stewardship that will allow future generations to enjoy the amenities and natural beauty of this ground-breaking residential community”

Is it possible for this to happen in the suburbs? Here are three possible answers:

  1. Suburbanites cannot steward land and natural beauty. By virtue of being suburbia, the land is used poorly, roads and houses are put everywhere, habitats and ecosystems are disturbed, and the land and nature become just echoes of what they once were.
  2. On the opposite end of the spectrum: humans have tended land and nature for millennia. Suburbia can enhance land and nature for human use. Suburbia can even be beautiful if careful attention is paid to ensuring open space, lawns, parks, gardens, trees, and natural features.
  3. A somewhere in the middle position: suburbia can treat land and nature better or worse, depending on decisions about development and how everyday life looks when completed. There are features of suburban nature that are laughable – such as so-called “nature band-aids” in sprawling parking lots – and others that are more admirable – plots of natural plants, preserved trees, and Forest Preserves (to name a few).

I have heard/read all three positions. If the development goes forward as planned or in a similar format, future residents and visitors might find it difficult to envision what was there in a less-developed state. On the other hand, they might see a version of suburban nature that residents and the community see as helpful and worth preserving in the land of single-family homes and driving.

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