Published on 16 Nov 2011 8:00 AM
By Perry Norton, FAICP
In connection with the PBS TV series "Power of Myth" Joseph Campbell wrote, "The rise and fall of civilizations can be seen to have been largely a function of the integrity and cogency of their supporting canons of myth...when the mythology of a culture no longer works, there follows a sense of both disassociation and a quest for new meaning."
In his notes of introduction to his powerful play "The Kentucky Cycle", Robert Schenkkan wrote, "The Myth of the Frontier is a fascinating construct, an extremely seductive and ultimately very dangerous myth, composed of two lesser myths. The first of these is the Myth of Abundance, which says, 'These resources are so vast that they will never end, You cannot possibly use them up.' The other half of the Myth of the Frontier might be called the Myth of Escape. It says, 'Only today matters, The past? Who cares? If you don't like where you are, literally or metaphorically, well, pick up stakes and move. Change your address, change your name, change your history.'."
Continuing the figure of such speech, I would suggest that there is yet another myth, one that has touched, and continues to touch, seminal thinking about land use planning. One that has, alas, created a wall between planners and society in general. I would call it the Myth of Community.