Edge cities, real-estate “development”, car-commuting, single-use zoning laws, endless sprawl, and obliterated agricultural land are no longer seriously identified with expressions of choice and prosperity, with ideal lives. A great historical watershed came along after 1945 and built suburbia. That grand era is over.
Suburbia’s physical form has been the subject of critique as long as it has been around. Less frequently do we think about social conditions there. Time we did. The suburbs are getting poorer. They were good for business more than people.
Here in North America we have transformed our environment and lives so thoroughly into suburbia that we can scarcely conceive of them any other way. A turn in the social conditions of our vast, overbuilt, aging, car-dependent communities has massive implications for everyone. At suburban-poverty.com we seek to learn about this worrisome social change.
Poverty remains identified with urban ghettos and marginalized rural communities. This just isn’t accurate any longer. Our thinking needs to catch up. Fast. The poor are being pushed to the periphery where transportation, housing, employment, community life and general liveability are problematic. The better off are re-colonizing cities. If human communities are to thrive in the coming world they had better understand this emergent proposition.
“…the living arrangement most [North] Americans think of as “normal” is
bankrupting us both personally and at every level of government. …Now that we have built the sprawling system of far-flung houses, offices, and discount marts connected by freeways we can’t afford to live in it. We also failed to anticipate the costs of the social problems we created by letting our towns and cities go to hell.”
-James Howard Kunstler. The Geography of
Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape. 1993.