What causes some cities to thrive, while others decay? It's a question that has fascinated social scientists for decades and led directly to the Broken Windows theory, which holds that ignoring the little problems - litter, broken glass - creates a sense of irreparable decline that leads people to abandon the community or to stay away.
We should call, then, the work of Columbia Green and the City of Columbia Forestry and Beautification Department the anti-Broken Windows Theory, or perhaps the Best Food Forward Theory. Neither of these organizations waits for an area to be broken before they earn a makeover.
"Our main focus has been gateways and major roadways into and through the city," said Sara Hollar, superintendent of Forestry and Beautification. "The goal is to have an impact on a large number of people and not just a small handful. Some of the projects the city has completed started from requests from neighborhood or citizen groups. It can be a long process. We communicate with those that live or work nearby and work to resolve any issues or concerns that those groups may have with a planned project. We also listen to suggestions and incorporate those as is possible."
Originally posted in Columbia Home and Garden in the Winter 2009/2010 edition, by Sam Morton. Click here to read the full article.