Jeffersonian advice for Baldwin residents

Former Baldwin Township board member Elly Rittenour has been thinking about what Thomas Jefferson might have said about Baldwin Township while reading a letter he wrote to James Madison entitled, “The Earth Belongs to the Living.”

“The earth belongs in usufruct to the living; that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it. The portion occupied by any individual ceases to be his when himself ceases to be, and reverts to the society. … The earth belongs always to the living generation. They may manage it then, and what proceeds from it, as they please, during their usufruct.”

Archaic language and all, to Elly, this quote concerns the fact that while today’s decisions about the future of Baldwin will primarily effect its youth, most of the decisions makers are, as she put it, closer to the grave.

“I still think Jefferson’s thoughts can be applied to whatever burdens may visit the next generation of Baldwin and how township planning should be built specifically for those below my generation. I think that is the legacy of the older generation,” she writes.

How can communities engage their youth and guard for the future of younger generations as they plan? How will Baldwin manage the mixing of the experience of its older members with the new ideas of its youth?

Elly states, “this is a bigger picture and it’s a picture not for your life, but for your kids’ life. What is best for that?” she said. “I want to think about those yet to come; what is good for them?”

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