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602 S. Gay Street
Knoxville, TN 37902
I wanted to write to say how much I appreciate Eleanor Scott’s new column in the Pulse, A Living World. I’ve really appreciated reading her observations and musings about the “ordinary beauty” that makes up a lot of our surroundings—whether it be forgotten alleyways, factories covered in vines of kudzu, or a favorite neighborhood tree.
What’s more, I think it’s great to have a column focusing on these sorts of things, on the actual lived environment that we call home. Too often, it seems to me, there is an unspoken cultural and political agreement that what matters in our society is “economic success,” and whatever stores, production plants, or industrial hoo-ha we need to build in order to ensure that is of course what we should do. What we forget is the same thing that John Muir reminded us many years ago, that “Man needs beauty as well as bread,” and that we should create not just “jobs” or “development” in our world but qualities like gracefulness, elegance, care, enchantment.
The word ‘Economy’ comes from two Greek roots: ‘Oikos,’ which means Home, and ‘Nomy,’ which means Management. So Economy means management of our home ... and who doesn’t want to have a beautiful home they’re proud to live in?
Finally, I’m happy to see somebody look at the built and living environment around them from an “ordinary person” standpoint; a lot of the time I feel like the only people who are even having a conversation about what our communities will look like are architects and urban planners, who, as they say in the South bless their heart often use language and terminology that is only understandable to a small circle of people.
I hope whoever the people in future governments of Knoxville are take heed of Eleanor Scott’s column and the spirit behind it, looking past the necessary mechanics of keeping city services running and facilitating a healthy economy, towards a city that isn’t just functional but beautiful.