Today we cashed out of Sustainable Fairview, the 245 acre site in south Salem that, according to the local newspaper, is “envisioned to become a model of mixed-use and environmentally friendly development.”
Hope so. But at 1:30 this afternoon I traded two shares in Sustainable Fairview Associates (SFA) for a check, shook hands with Sam Hall, the managing member of SFA, and brought to an end our sometimes satisfying but mostly frustrating experience as investors in this development.
The property has been sold to a group led by Phil Morford, a Portland-area developer, and Gordon Root. Good luck to them.
And thanks to Phil and Gordon for buying the property from SFA, because a few hours after picking up the check I was standing in front of a clerk at the Marion and Polk Schools Credit Union paying off a home equity loan that we’d used to buy the five acre lot next to our home. (See “We buy some really expensive blackberries”.)
Many SFA investors are keeping their shares in play, staying on board while Morford and company pay off their purchase price over the next few years. We may be passing up an opportunity to make more money than the 30% or so we realized over the four years we were SFA members.
But Laurel and I never hesitated to jump ship when the opportunity was presented to us. We (mostly me) have been two of the gadflies who questioned how well Sustainable Fairview was being managed and whether basic principles of sustainability were being applied by SFA.
I’ll end with a compilation of the Sustainable Fairview-related blog posts I’ve written (and ranted) over several years. Digging them out of the “sustainability” category just now, I remembered how passionate I used to be about this development. Then, I lost interest.
I haven’t been to a SFA meeting in several years. I’ve been reading the minutes and keeping a general wary eye on our investment. However, there never was an opportunity for creative, enthusiastic greenies like Laurel and me to become involved in anything but a passive way with the project.
That’s too bad. Hopefully the new owners will realize, as SFA never did, that sustainability isn’t just about enviro-friendly building codes and other mechanistic means of saving energy, recycling waste, conserving water, and all that. In my “Sustainable Fairview Associates—a cautionary tale” post, I said:
Thoreau puts it so well: “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. I sat at a table where were rich food and wine in abundance and obsequious attendance, but sincerity and truth were not; and I went away hungry from the inhospitable board.” What truly sustains us? Not water, not air, not food, not shelter. These are all for the body, not the “us” that is our soul, spirit, consciousness, original nature, true self—whatever you want to call it.
A so-called “sustainable development” that doesn’t sustain this part of us, the most important part of us, the part of us that finds meaning in life beyond bare existence, it isn’t sustainable at all. Man (and woman) does not live by solar collectors, living system wastewater treatment, permeable roads, and fuel cells alone. A life absent genuine community—where I can commune both with myself and with my fellow human beings—is a life absent what makes life worth living.
Glancing over my SFA-critical blog post oeuvre, I realize that I sound pie-in-the-skyish at times. Lots of times. Undoubtedly this is how I sounded to SFA management as well, who turned a deaf ear to my “Let’s be truly green!” entreaties.
Well, I tried. Sustainable Fairview has turned out fine. Maybe it will end up more than fine—excellent. We’ll see. Time will tell. There’s no doubt that these 245 acres will end up in much better shape than they would have if a traditional developer such as Chuck Sides had gotten hold of them.
For that, I’m happy.
Here’s my compilation of Sustainable Fairview blog posts. Perhaps someday they will become fodder for a graduate student thesis concerning the history of this development. In a decade my writings will appear either prescient or foolish.
Whatever. I just said what I had to say—the blogger’s creed.
Sustainable Fairview overview
New name for “Fairview”
Renaming Fairview makes the news
Thanks for feeding PollMonkey
On remaining in a room
Relativity and sustainability
Sustainable Fairview Associates—a cautionary tale
Seriously seeking special setting
“You say you want a revolution…”
Power to the weblog, right on!
275 urban ac.; 700,000 sq. ft.; grt. vu.; Salem; $13 mil/offer
“Sustainable” Fairview: is it really?
Sustainable Fairview update
Pringle Creek Community, a Salem sustainable development
Salem City Council knows zilch about sustainability