The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

4 March 2006

Welcome to Ave Maria, Florida

You have to admit that this sounds pretty cool:

The Town of Ave Maria is believed to be the first modern town to be developed in conjunction with a University. Located on what was once largely agricultural land, it has been designed to be a compact, walkable, self-sustaining town that reflects the community's rural roots while offering a full range of residential options and commercial services to its residents.

Importantly, Ave Maria has been designed to human scale. Street networks, distinctive character, and environmental sustainability are integral to its planning. It is to be a true community, where neighbors care about neighbors, friendships span generations, and a sense of pride is felt by every resident, student, and worker.

The Ave Maria community totals about 5,000 acres, of which nearly 20% has been designated as the University campus. Connecting the University and the Town is a Town Core anchored by the landmark Oratory and incorporating retail and commercial space as well as residential condominiums.

It's a Catholic university, and to the extent that it's integrated into the community, you might well expect that the community plays mostly by the same rules.

And you might expect headlines like "New Florida town would restrict abortion":

If Domino's Pizza founder Thomas S. Monaghan has his way, a new town being built in Florida will be governed according to strict Roman Catholic principles, with no place to get an abortion, pornography or birth control.

Homebuyers in Ave Maria will own their property outright. But Monaghan and [developer] Barron Collier will control all commercial real estate in the town, meaning they could insert provisions in leases to restrict the sale of certain items.

This doesn't mean that they're going to, necessarily, but the reaction is predictable:

Frances Kissling, president of the liberal Washington-based Catholics for a Free Choice, likened Monaghan's concept to Islamic fundamentalism.

"This is un-American," Kissling said. "I don't think in a democratic society you can have a legally organized township that will seek to have any kind of public service whatsoever and try to restrict the constitutional rights of citizens."

The proper response, by Joanna of Fey Accompli:

contrary to Kissling's confusion of socialism with democracy (a common mistake made by veterans of government schools), this is exactly what a liberal society is about! ya know why? cause it's an entirely voluntary association!

*gasp!*

chorus: you mean that the people living there won't be shopping for condoms and titty magazines anyway? and they'll be there entirely of their own volition, fully aware of their abdication of certain rights, and can leave anytime they want?

yes! that's what i mean! which makes it the exact OPPOSITE of Islamic fundamentalism elsewhere.

Now if Monaghan were forcing people at gunpoint to live in his company university town, that's another matter. But he's not. Joanna continues:

lefties HATE IT when people enter into voluntary agreements that oppose lefty values of forced secularization and imposed diversity. they HATE it that a fact of humanity they can't indoctrinate out is our inherent tribalism — that people cluster in communities of like-minded others. but a liberal society that we ALL should defend would allow for a variety of these voluntary clusters of people to exercise their cultural preferences.

I'm sure that our stuck-in-the-Sixties socialists would have raised hell, assuming such a place as "hell" actually existed of course, had some Republican type in a grey suit tried to move into one of their precious communes back in the day. So it's not that they don't like voluntary associations: it's that they don't like voluntary associations that they don't control, either by decree or by sheer numbers.

Besides, this is my favorite kind of social experiment: privately funded.

(Submitted to Wizbang's Carnival of the Trackbacks.)

Posted at 10:34 AM to Almost Yogurt