Guest Editorial: Living with make-do ethic
Stopping in front of a neighbor’s house on a snowy evening, my wife, Tracey, and I discovered that it had been completely gutted and there was a sign out front with a architects drawing of a completely new house.
“What was wrong with the old house?” we wondered. Well, the kitchen counter was granite and they wanted slate, they wanted a truly great great room with 30-foot ceilings, the master bedroom was not a suite with a bathroom the size of a gymnasium, and they wanted radiant heat and air conditioning with a heated three-car garage and driveway.
Another nice house across the street had sold for over $2 million, but was razed and now is being rebuilt as a glass cube with a flat roof.
“What’s wrong with our house?” we pondered. The rooms are small and dated, the microwave is on the Formica counter, the mud room is Linoleum, the bathrooms get crowded and claustrophobic during our daily five-minute visit, and the windows are foggy and cold. The roof is still cedar shakes, the original furnace and refrigerator are only 80% efficient but the trees have grown tall, the lawn is greenish, and most of the sprinkler system works. We make do.
“Should we update it?” we considered. Nah, we could throw our kitchen in the landfill and rebuild it but in five to 10 years, if we sell the house, they will throw the new kitchen in the land fill and build their own dream kitchen.
Besides, we are make-do people. We have gotten used to the way it is, it is our home, and we make the best of it. We do not want what we do not have. This seems to be a lost art in Park City where every house is in a constant state of redo, rehab and rebuild.
Why buy a house that you don’t want or like? Build your own dream home on your own dream lot somewhere else. Everybody wants what they want and will not compromise or capitulate. Everyone wants it perfect and the hell with the costs or the carbon footprint.
But perfection is a journey and not a destination, with Heisenberg uncertainty, and is ultimately unobtainable. As Ms. Fields might have said: Perfect is the enemy of good. Make do.
It’s the same with the roads around here, where there are three to seven lanes coming and going to town and we only use half of them. I love and respect UDOT, but we have huge shoulders for buses we never see and bikers who prefer the bike paths on either side to getting run over.
We could use the shoulders for peak traffic, at least through the big intersections. They could actuate, coordinate and time the traffic signals better and not zipper down four lane roads for just a mile or two. We have park-and-ride lots no one can get to or that are full of buses and tents, so no one uses them. Use what we have and make do with what we’ve got instead of building fly-aways, tunnels and billion-dollar bypasses.
In the ’70s in New York, they said they were done building roads. They have adapted with highway maximization, mass transit and tolls. It is free to drive into New York City, but it will cost you $17 to get out.
Perhaps we should set that up in reverse for Park City: Only locals get past Kimball or Quinns Junction; day skiers or tourists must park or pay. Make do.
It goes for leisure activities, as well. Our recreation leaders have done a commendable job keeping up with all the various demands, but dozens of people still sit around, in the hot sun or cold gym every day, to play pickleball while tennis courts and basketball courts sit empty waiting for someone to play. We could adjust these schedules and priorities to maximize the resources we have. Put temporary nets on the unused courts, for example, and if someone comes to play hoops or tennis, let the crazy pickleball fanatics respectfully step aside. Make do.
Park City has money, so we have water. But that doesn’t mean we should not conserve this precious resource for things like wildlife, rivers, the Great Salt Lake and other people. Our water bills are high to encourage us to conserve and to pay for what our water is really worth.
Nonetheless, there are trophy second homes watering the aspens daily because no one is there to adjust the timer, and they just pay the bill. The rest of us consider brown-is-beautiful, so we pay attention, and we use only what we need. It’s not about money or entitlement or prerogative. It is about wisely using limited resources efficiently. Consider the difference between what we need and what we want. Make do.
Finally let’s mention the stickers, the stayers or the people that have lived here through thick and thin. Miners, hippies, Latinos and ski bums, rich and poor. The Alaskan Inuits, for example, consider theirs a subsistence culture, living with just the basics. That includes family and friends, community and belonging, in a harsh environment, but they stay and they make do.
We could all leave our homes in search of a better place, but we stay and make the best of this place and help make this place be the best. Because we stayed. We make do.
Matthew Lindon is a hydrologist who has lived in Snyderville since 1979.
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