November 13, 2001
Perhaps you are familiar with the organization, Upstate Forever. This organization seeks to influence our future choices regarding how we treat our environment and use the resources we currently enjoy. While some may not agree with the methods they would incorporate to reach their objectives, most all agree that planning for the future and being a wise steward of our resources is a must.
Other areas exist where members of our community wish to maintain an existing environment that appears to be challenged by the winds of change. Referendums and discussions over the last few years including “blue laws”, Sunday alcohol sales, video poker and zoning around strip clubs serve as a few examples of the conflict for the moral climate of our community. While some question the role and effectiveness regulations play in creating a “family-friendly” and moral atmosphere, most all agree that creating an environment conducive to families and community stability is a must.
For the most part those supporting the protection of the natural environment and those behind the protection of the moral environment do not see eye to eye on many issues. However, they do face a common “enemy.” As much as we would like to hold on to what is important to us, there is one undeniable fact. Change happens. The challenge comes in the fact that most everyone wants to see our community grow and become a leader in the state and region. Yet as we approach closer and closer to that goal, change happens.
The fight for our natural environment is challenged by the need for infrastructure to help support those two-legged, upright members of our ecological community. Add to that the need to prepare for and attract business to the Upstate (i.e., plans for power plants in the Fork Shoals area) and you have an ever changing contest. It doesn’t help that those two-legged, upright members of our ecological community always seem to be most attracted to live in the spots the folks at Upstate Forever would like to most protect.
Ah, those people. As Greenville grows more and more of them show up. Funny, they all have their own ideas of how they want to live their lives. Many of them were not born here. Some are even from northern sections of the country! As business moves to Greenville, so do executives and young “20-30 somethings” that are used to Atlanta, Charlotte, and a myriad of other “metropolitan” centers. Their lifestyles run counter to the environment that has existed in Greenville.
A sure-fire way to handle this would be to sit still. Don’t allow any change. However, history shows that a city that doesn’t change dies. It is hard to realize for some that we may not remain the textile capitol of the world. It is hard for some to watch some of the shine disappear from the buckle of the Bible belt. It is hard for others to see the woods and fields where they played as children become home to a power plant.
Does that mean we should all just give up? No, we need to realize that some of the most attractive aspects of Greenville and the Upstate have been its beauty and, yes, its morality. In our desire to grow and still maintain a semblance of what we have known, it might do us well to listen to what the “environmentalist wackos” and “religious fanatics” have to say. We certainly may never agree on everything, but we may also find that they are not as wacko or fanatical as we think.
Besides a common enemy, there is something else that is shared—a common love for the Upstate.