The New Exploration: A Philosophy of Regional Planning

The New Exploration: A Philosophy of Regional Planning

The New Exploration: A Philosophy of Regional Planning

The New Exploration: A Philosophy of Regional Planning

Excerpt

The New Exploration is a book that deserves a place on the same shelf that holds Henry Thoreau's Walden and George Perkins Marsh's Man and Nature; and like the first of these books, it has had to wait a whole generation to acquire the readers that would appreciate it. In the field of regional planning Benton MacKaye's book was not merely a pioneer essay in its own time, but it is still ahead of much of the thinking and planning being done in this field today, since too little of that effort displays either the hard logic or the humane insight MacKaye has brought to the subject.

In Benton MacKaye the voice of an older America, a voice with echoes not only of Thoreau, but of Davy Crockett, Audubon, and Mark Twain, addresses itself to the problem of how to use the natural and cultural resources we have at hand today without defacing the landscape, polluting the atmosphere, disrupting the complex associations of animal and plant species upon which all higher life depends, and thus in the end destroying the possibilities for further human development. That voice was needed in 1928; and because it was not listened to, it is needed even more today.

In the course of this last generation, MacKaye's timely diagnosis has proved sound; and his well-grounded forebodings have been confirmed even more rapidly than he anticipated. Nobody else in our time has pointed out more clearly the terms upon which modern man, and in particular the American people, may occupy the earth and use judiciously all our resources, natural, technical, and urban, without making the land itself uninhabitable and our own life unendurable. If this book seems at times as elementary as an old-fashioned spelling book, that very quality carries a recognition of the fact that in dealing with the earth itself and man's habitations and fabrications, we have still to learn our ABC's.

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