This week, we are asking those who read, believe in and benefit from Strong Towns to support us by becoming members of the Strong Towns movement. Our small nonprofit is supported primarily through donations from members like you and we need your help to keep doing this important work.

John Gear is an organizational sponsor of Strong Towns through the Oregon Public Empowerment News (Oregon PEN), which he runs. Today, we've invited him to talk about why he is both a conservative and an environmentalist—and why these values have led him to support Strong Towns. Learn more about organizational sponsorship.


As I put up my flag a few weeks ago for Memorial Day, I thought back to the Memorial Days I spent on the USS Omaha, a Los Angeles class attack submarine based in Pearl Harbor. On Memorial Day of 1987, I was the newest junior officer assigned to the wardroom of the USS Omaha. We were underway so much that, after I left the Navy, I half-joked that, when my wife lived in Hawaii, I was able to visit her there sometimes.

It was during that time that I really became an environmentalist. There is nothing that will teach you, in your gut, about living in a fragile, finite spaceship of a world quite like spending months in an even more fragile, tiny spaceship that travels through the oceans. You only eat what you bring. You only drink water you make. You must manage, purify, and recycle the air you breathe. If you want it, you must plan for it and stow it; if you don’t want it any more, you have to carefully isolate it.

An armed nuclear submarine is a small tube about the size of a city block, stuffed full of all the complexity you would get from combining the major parts of an all-night diner, a high-tech factory, a warship, a college dorm, a laundromat, an 18-wheeler, and a nuclear power plant. Now imagine sending that whole package and a hundred colorful characters off for months through an environment that is more aggressively hostile than outer space.

Pulling that off teaches – and requires – people who become allergic to BS, who insist on seeing reality as it really is, not as we might wish it to be. Submarining takes ordinary people who will act in very unordinary ways for extraordinary periods. It takes remaining alert during long periods of crushing boredom so as to be able to respond instantly and properly during the brief moments of stark terror that punctuate them.

I know in my gut that our resources are finite, and that the most dangerous thing you can do is rely on optimistic projections, especially from people who stand to profit from it if you do.

That’s why anyone who likes rose-colored glasses or who believes that problems are things you pass off onto others isn’t welcome long on a submarine. And that’s why the Strong Towns message – that we have to be honest with ourselves in our accounting, that we can’t keep playing the Growth Ponzi Scheme and stealing from the future – resonates and motivates me so well.  

I'm a member of the Strong Towns movement because I'm a conservative, someone who is tired of seeing development decisions all dominated and controlled by hucksters who claim to be offering free lunches for all, while they are actually just strapping our kids to enormous, crippling liabilities. I know in my gut that our resources are finite, and that the most dangerous thing you can do is rely on optimistic projections, especially from people who stand to profit from it if you do.

If you want a financially and environmentally sound future for our nation, support this movement by becoming a member today.


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