First written in October 2010, it seems a good time to republish this:
When I was a kid, I bet I ate a whole field’s worth of dirt as I played. My mates and I mucked around in the Thames which, in those days, was little better than a sewer; we got colds and upset stomachs and simply ran them off, more as likely in pouring rain. Sometimes we got real diseases like mumps and measles but they were considered age appropriate and we all knew it would be over in a week or two. If any of us had suggested we had an allergy to peanut butter, say, then we would have been stuffed with it until we got over it. We spent our childhoods shaking hands with every germ and bacteria on the ground and in the air and we grew up to be a fairly healthy generation.
These days parents protect their kids from any kind of contamination and we have the sickest kids in history, I bet. Many parents pride themselves on keeping their home environments as — or more — sterile than hospitals. And yet their children have allergies to this and contra-indications to that. They are as clean as they can be and they are sick as dogs.
I believe there is a direct relationship between the health of kids and the amount of dirt they eat. The more bugs they collect early in life, the better immunities they develop later; and the more sniffles they get as a child the less likely they are to show hypochondriac tendencies as adults. To put it another way, the less a household pays in cleansing and sanitizing and “protecting” their kids, the less they will need to spend in health care costs later.
This change from healthy dirt to dangerous prophylaxis has occurred within my lifetime. How did it come about? Marketing and capitalism, that’s how.
By the 1940s and 1950s, major industrial cleaning companies had developed a whole range of cleaning solutions. No one really needed them, but the marketers set out to convince parents, mothers especially, that they were doing their children great harm if they did not use their products. They used fear as the primary motivation — not only fear of sickness in their kids, but more viscerally the fear of appearing to be a bad mother. And they succeeded perhaps beyond their wildest dreams.
And now we are all paying for it, with a generation of children with allergies and neuroses and medical conditions that were almost unknown fifty years ago. It sure did the Johnson & Johnsons and the Hoovers of the world a lot of good financially, but is this really progress?
The Grandview Woodland Area Council has written a plea to City Council not to enact the proposed RT-5 zoning in our neighbourhood.
One of the letter’s strongest points concerns affordable housing in Grandview:
“Grandview is a heritage area that is generally intact with the original buildings still existing. Most of these character houses have been converted to multiple rental units, some legal and some not. These units are important sources of affordable rentals, especially when we are in a housing crisis. Retention of existing rentals is dependent on the fate of our character houses.
Growing through incremental increases of units of conversions and infill as incentives for character house retention is the sustainable way to create more affordable housing options while not losing what we have and without inflating land values. The current proposal allows too many options for new development that undermines this, including lot assembly. The new RT5 zone should be given the same neighbourhood character consideration for contextual design and guidelines as the RT6 in west Mt. Pleasant.”
I urge all residents — and everyone else interested in how the Vision Vancouver Council has destroyed so many neighbourhoods in this City — to read the letter and its attachment in full to gain a proper understanding of the issues we face here.
Unfortunately, given the dominance of the developer-financed majority on Council, I suspect this all too late. As one of the realtors I quoted in my piece from last week stated, this “zoning change is going to council September 21st 2017 to be rubber stamped.“