Stories…

 

… of Texas and its stewards.

 
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Eminent Domain: The Growing Threat to the Lone Star State

The legal framework that enables the exercise of eminent domain in Texas is such that abuses are becoming more and more common in irreplaceable landscapes such as the Hill Country, and these abuses are destroying the notions of private property rights that have been so highly valued in the Lone Star State. They are also destroying landscapes and precious natural resources that supply rapidly growing metropolitan areas such as Austin and San Antonio. If private companies are allowed to continue to take land for economic development and if utilities and infrastructure projects continue to run rampant across permanently conserved private lands, we are at risk of losing landscapes that can never be replaced.

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The New Texas Land Stewards (It’s Not Who You Think)

Texas has a mythology larger than the state itself. The state identity has historically been that of the tough as nails rancher, the dusty, worn cowboy and the men who toiled in the oil fields to bring wealth to the state. It is the part of the story that focuses on rural lands and the people who worked them. In a state with tens of millions of acres of unincorporated land, that makes sense. Or at least it did until the population reached 21st century levels.

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Curated Advice

Some of the best advice I’ve been given from the people who are taking care of Texas.

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Old Places Tell Stories, But is it Worth it to Listen?

If an old house is listed on an Historic Resources Survey for more than three decades and gets marked as “high importance” by a well-meaning someone (probably an intern), but no one pays enough attention to it to notice that part of a wall has fallen off, vandals have declared in spray paint that the earth is flat and termites have had a years-long buffet, is it really that important?

Are old things important just because they’re old? Do dirty politics play a role in community demands to save a place from demolition? If it costs more to bring a decayed building up to current codes than you can make back by renting or selling it, should you save it? If the land was once owned by the founder of the city, does that make a difference?