"Hating Suburbia"

It takes more to "Lose the Noose" than becoming increasingly anti-corporate and bureaucratically suspicious. It takes a long look at context, with an eye toward systems and structures and how they perpetuate 'problems'. How did we get here? What do suburb- haters want, beyond the complaints of oil-enabling commuter lifestyles? How does planning connect to poverty and justice? How does the pursuit of cheap goods, cookie cutter purchases, and excess contribute to the problems of exploitation, violence, pollution, and land degradation? What are we doing when we vote with our wallets? When we vote with our tv clickers? When we express our discontent in the blogosphere? How do our purchases reflect our need for conformity? Enforce gender/class stereotypes? The 'rage' is not simply about the idea that we move closer to violence and imperialism when resources are in excessive demand- it is about a rage against souls with price tags. When the dollar reigns supreme, the love and respect we have for our families and neighbors takes a back seat. Observing most children for a few hours will tell you far more about these problems than a thesis. Jim Kunstler, author of "The Long Emergency", talks about the background of Suburbia and the evolution of the American Dream in "Hating Suburbia" Check him out, too HERE . Kunstler begins with the railroad that brought those able to flee city life out to the countryside, where they could enjoy fresh air and natural spaces. The suburban trend revolved around many worker and immigrant groups clustering in the city for jobs and resources- to have the support of other people who shared their language and culture.Industry and poor social oversight made city life less than desireable- dirty and polluted, a public health threat for many who contended with poor sanitation and crowded living to work at places where they were treated poorly. People came in, and those who could afford to do so- moved outward, toward increasingly less dense clusters of housing. Those able could have their cake and eat it too- people could work in the city then scamper off by train or car to their homes. I think its important to mention the role of immigration, although many I've read hesitate to do so. It is important to describe this process as a factor- not to hold immigrant groups accountable for urban flight but to describe the way these groups sought to meet social, cultural, and economic needs in the cities, and how ill-equipped early cities were to handle the constantly changing populations. It is important also to mention that often in times of social stress, people are more readily accepting of corruption and exploitation as was seen with city politics and 'ethnic machines". After the baby boom and the celebrated suburban bliss of the fifties, the American Dream of suburban home ownership had taken hold and propelled us toward the society we have currently of excess and consumption. We all aspire to own our little squares and control them by spending tremendous resources on appearance, maintenance, and renovation. Bigger is better, and the less natural a yard seems to look, the more desireable. This seems true for many things- food and women seem to be preferred in states as far away from natural as is possible as well. What are we learning from this disgust with nature? Possibly we are learning that civilization will die from arrogance and detachment.

Link to "The End of Suburbia"

THE END OF SUBURBIA: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of The American Dream

"We're literally stuck up a cul-de-sac in a cement SUV without a fill-up" - James Howard Kunstler

Since World War II North Americans have invested much of their newfound wealth in suburbia. It has promised a sense of space, affordability, family life and upward mobility. As the population of suburban sprawl has exploded in the past 50 years, so too has the suburban way of life become embedded in the American consciousness.

Suburbia, and all it promises, has become the American Dream.

But as we enter the 21st century, serious questions are beginning to emerge about the sustainability of this way of life. With brutal honesty and a touch of irony, The End of Suburbia explores the American Way of Life and its prospects as the planet approaches a critical era, as global demand for fossil fuels begins to outstrip supply. World Oil Peak and the inevitable decline of fossil fuels are upon us now, some scientists and policy makers argue in this documentary.

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