Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Rethinking the Dream"

It's been a long time since I've blogged (and how many times have I started a post with that line?). I was fortunate enough to take one of the days of revelry to spend a day by myself exploring the California Academy of Sciences and check out one of the lesser traveled corners -- the Resource Center. There I picked up a copy of Terrain Magazine which had an illuminating interview with Allison Arieff the editor in chief of Sunset Magazine. The topic was what of the future of the suburb and is the suburban dream a sustainable dream? The answer is not looking good, but it doesn't look like there is a solution, just more problems on the horizon.

The suburbs are critical to our carbon crisis in that their existence is facilitated by the automobile. Without the automobile noone could easily live and escape to the 'burbs. This was brought to light when gas prices shot up. Gas is not likely to get cheaper for the long run (though it may collapse in the short run lulling us back to SUVs) so what will happen to the suburbs as people have to leave to exist? What happens to our separate zoning model?

The past decade says that you can't live on the future forever since eventually the future becomes today and catches up. Read it and think, maybe read it and weep.


At 10:41 PM , Blogger Lacey said...

Does the carbon crisis mean the end of surburban living?

I'm not sure that it does. I think there needs to be a restructuring of suburbs around public transportation. If there is adequate public transport, people can still live outside the city and commute to work. The problem is the current suburban model has been designed around cars. There is either limited or no public transport in many American cities. And often walking or biking is not an option because it's not safe. There are not appropriate paths, or drivers simply don't take care to watch for pedestrians. Walking is seen as unthinkable!

Furthermore, I think that the death or at least scaling back, of suburban living might be a good thing environmentally speaking. Instead of increasing urban sprawl, it can allow for nature to, well, exist. The end of the Mcmansion and a return to more simple living.


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