Grim reading from august commentator on American community James Howard Kunstler. The author of seminal work The Geography of Nowhere sees direct ties between sprawl-lived lives and the gun nihilsm of America. Suburbia has been Kunstler’s thing for decades now and we respect his words. Even if he has become a little reactive, a touch cranky in recent years any wisdom on this matter is surely welcome and his probably more than many others. The resort to maximum hand-held firepower as a response to one’s environment staggers the imagination and really has for decades now. What to do on this file? Thank the God of your choice this is not Canada Dear Readers.
Back to class, not just for the future workers, heads of families, homebuyers and consumers either. It’s always been about class, kids. Two thought pieces from the Canadian media on a topic they would much prefer to ignore most days. A long one and a short one, both on point. It’s not an ‘affordability crisis’, it’s a class conflict thestar.com
Just as the season begins to turn, though more these days that turning is about the relentless churning of some Category 5 hurricane than the expected memory of back-to-school rituals and soul-soothing autumn colours, advance word comes from Las Vegas of hot futures. The premier example of unsustainable sprawl in North America is now finding out what it is like to be on the public health front line of climate change. What else is it but a public health disaster if you cannot go outside? What if you are kinda stuck outside? How does this quotation grab you from an item in today’s Guardian? ”… homeless people with post-mortem burns from collapsing on hot streets.”
No matter how fractured our collective political lives become most of us would still tend to agree that preventing premature death by any cause is a good idea. Recent data from the United States should therefore interest all of us, regardless of how entrenched in total ideology or total indifference.
Some news we can revel in. A retreat in poverty levels in Canada, especially for children, has come about. Considering what it’s like to delve into issues of poverty and social difficulty most of the time it should be hard to find anyone unhappy with this. Credit goes to a revamping of child tax benefits at federal level. This has not been picked up as robustly as we thought it would have but it is so encouraging to see that people can change systems and circumstances. Yes, there is work and research to be done. Nova Scotia seems to have been left out of things for some reason and there have, apparently, been changes made to methodology when it comes to officially counting child poverty which urges some caution. Nontheless, we’ll take it and the politicians on side with this should feel a sense of reward.
We are what we eat. The Canada Food Guide has been around pretty much forever and the latest iteration offers a chance to reflect. It’s a well-meaning attempt to, well, make life better. Over the years it has been adjusted to reflect medical findings about sugar and fat, portion sizes and such. What we really need to get our heads around is that poverty interferes with good eating.
Tiny ( and rich ) Luxembourg made mass transit free at the point of use for the entire country last month. Vehicular congestion and air pollution is cited as the primary motivations for this undertaking but we like to see it as a healthy example of social democracy in action. This is a systemic gift to ordinary people in the heart of a continent that has seen a strong general trend in the opposite direction, toward inequality and the running down of public services. Next? Greater Toronto?
We first came across detailed recognition of transportation poverty in the form of reports from non-profit and academic sources in the UK. Canadians need not feel left out when it comes to our lived experience of this particular social difficulty. Just look at the first map of Canada’s business capital, a place run by a suburban millionaire who despises public services.