I find few things more irritating than the conspicuous non-consumer. You know the type—always cluttering up your Facebook feed with causes to support or links to online surveys to calculate your carbon footprint (while bragging about their own, naturally) and generally taking a perverse pleasure in pointing out how, if more people lived like them, we could supposedly save the planet.
Don’t get me wrong—I tend to agree with their goals; conservation and preservation are good things, so is driving less and buying local. And I’m also a big believer in Thoreau’s simple suggestion to “Simplify. Simplify.” Taken together, they’re a big part of why I’ve spent damn near two decades promoting urban living as an attractive alternative to sprawl.
“Promoting” and “attractive” are key words, here. A hair shirt is a hard sell. I mean, you can think of being able to walk or bike downtown and buy fresh local produce at the farmers’ market as some sort of penance for a half-century of suburban sins against the planet if you want to. Personally, I see it as a desirable amenity. Urban living isn’t about what you give up, so much as what you gain. For instance, I may not have a garage to park my car in, but I don’t have to get in it and drive in order to walk on the nearest greenway.
Now this charming bungalow on Overton Place happens to have a garage (one car, detached). But, tucked on a quiet side street in the Brownlow section of Old North, it’s just around the corner from the First Creek Greenway and within biking distance of downtown. While it’s no McMansion at a little more than 1,100 square feet, its mortgage will set you back considerably less. (Who really needs four bedrooms, a finished basement and a big “bonus room” above the garage anyway?) And how many $100,000 houses in the suburbs can boast hardwood floors, high ceilings, and a handsome Arts and Crafts-style fireplace? Or interior doors of solid wood and a claw-foot tub that’s porcelain enameled cast iron rather than flimsy fiberglass? If the last decade or so of Knoxville’s development has demonstrated anything, it’s the intrinsic value that urban living and historic preservation offer.
So, by buying this house, are you really “sacrificing” something for the sake of the planet? Or is it simply getting a great house, in a great location, at a great price? Whatever your reasoning, you’ll probably end up with a smaller carbon footprint than someone in the suburbs.
Just try not to brag about it. m
1137 Overton Place
1160 sq. ft.
2 bdrm, 1 bath
Contact: Jessica Rodocker