Thursday, December 2, 2010

Herald Tribune covers City Planning Board on Chickens

Reporter Carrie Wells filed a story on the recent City Planning Board meeting. Read the story here.

Two of the quotes are particularly off base and deserve a response.

One Board member is quoted as saying "This looks like this is drafted for the maximum convenience of the chicken owners." Had that member carefully considered the handout prepared by CLUCK, it would have been obvious that most provisions had been incorporated out of consideration for neighbors, after that came provisions for the welfare of the chickens. Contrary to the accusation, almost none of the provisions are for the convenience or benefit of the owners.

Another quote: "Chickens are this week's fad for farm animals." While it possible that urban chicken keeping is a fad, it is way too early to make that determination. Definitions of a fad typically include a rapid rise in popularity followed by a fairly precipitous fall. Frequently cited examples include pet rocks, phone booth stuffing, and goldfish swallowing. One common denominator of these examples is their novelty that lacked any rational underpinning.

Perhaps another hallmark of fads is their accessibility. In order to make a rapid rise possible and extremely popular, a fad should be free or affordable. Clackers, chia pets, mood rings, and pogs were all within reach of almost every consumer. But chickens involve considerable start up expenses and commitment.

If only a few thousand people nationwide are into backyard chickens five years from now, we can say it was a fad. But right now it sure looks like a trend or movement.

And if the critic is correct and this turns out to be a fad? Then it will shortly self-extinguish -- so what precisely is the problem? This is either the real deal, in which case it deserves serious consideration, or it is an ephemeral phenomenon not worthy of all the anguish and vitriol.

For discussion of the need to make sure backyard chicken movement remains grounded in real reasons and not mere popularity, see an earlier blog entry Fighting the Backyard Chicken Fad.

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