Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Vagabond’s Guide to the Galaxy – June 23

“Come on Mr. Dent, you can’t lie there!”

Where? Mr. Dent was lying in front of a bulldozer that was about to push over his house, to put a bypass through his living room. “Bypass” – the local term for freeway.

“Can’t I? Let’s wait and see who rusts first,” Mr. Dent says.

By a totally odd coincidence, Paul and Amber discover that the city of Aberdeen plans to put a bypass through their new living room. How did they find out? Not because a realtor or the owner of the house alerted them, but because an office coworker (John Gibson) said – Blacktop? Isn’t that where they want to build the new bypass? And so I find out that the city plans to put the bypass near Gairn Park. It’s west of us by a few miles, I say. I look closer. “Crivens! It’s supposed to go through Roy’s ranch. ”By the time I reach our suite, I pull up a more detailed map. Then I look at Amber. “Michty me, they’re putting it through our living room!”

But will it happen? No way, say most people in the office. At any rate not any time soon. Most Aberdonians regard the bypass as a boondoggle foisted on the city by business concerns and folk living in the north who want to visit their kids in Dundee without driving through Aberdeen. Many grassroots orgs are working to stop it. Today it transpired that in budgeting the project, they forgot to add in the taxes. Graffiti on the motorway displayed someone’s butt, with VAT (Value added tax) sticking there. There will be many hearings and court challenges before the project goes ahead. Current plans are to break ground in 2009 – by which time the Vagabond and his Gipsy wife may be due to move on.

I wonder about Roy, our landlord and owner who has put more than thirty years into the area only to see it all torn up. Will he lie down like Arthur Dent in front of the bulldozer? Our concerns are small by comparison. Originally the bypass was supposed to plough through Camphill – a center for the autistic, downs syndrome and otherwise handicapped. Applying the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, a German mystic who lived in the early 20th century and founded Waldorf Schools, Camphill has apparently accomplished marvelous things with the handicapped. They worked against the bypass for 12 years. So the Scottish Executive moved the route over to Cults and Marycoulter, a place well endowed with American expats, because of its proximity to the International School. Oops, too much money, so the bypass moved again to where there’s only beautiful scenery, in fact some of the most spectacular in Aberdeenshire – it’s not well moneyed and it can’t complain.

Well, hell we’re going to help it complain. We’ve already found the “Greenbelt Alliance” that is putting a lot of energy into stopping this project. This is where the beaurocratic Scottish legal system may be our friend. Getting anything done is so impossible that many developers give up trying. And it may be easy to throw up roadblocks at various junctions.

The Camphill community is also still engaged as the bypass route cleaves through their land. We’d like to also contact them. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the loudest voice that questions the blind pursuit of money might arise from some of our community’s most vulnerable?

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