All posts by subu7023

I'm a (mature) student of the social services with some background in publishing and a degree in history. I've seen suburban poverty through involvement with a drop-in centre.

(50) Saving suburbia

The Oil Drum blog is good daily reading for anyone concerned about our global energy future.  Even the comments from the readership are so smart it’s scary.  Suburbia draws on energy resources for the commuting and consuming it is dependent upon.  The fact those energy resources are more expensive and harder to get at calls into question the very viability of the entire complex of things that go with suburbia.  If the energy available to suburbia declined what would happen to the poor there?  We think they’d have plenty of company as what is left of the middle class gets demoted by the energy and financial dysfunction to come.  There may still be reason to argue about when exactly the energy dysfunction will really go big but we don’t see how a person in touch with reality even moderately can believe in a techno-utopian future suite of fixes that will allow us to prance past the energy issue.  Jeff Vail has been writing about practical responses to the energy issues of suburbia for some time now.  He wrote about resilient suburbia for the Oil Drum in 2008.  In 2010 he gave an address called Rescuing Suburbia at an ASPO (Association for the Study of Peak Oil) conference.  Links below.
Rescuing Suburbia video & powerpoint slides 2010
A Resilient Suburbia?
4-part series 2008

(49) Downshifting might be fun after all

We came across this item this morning and thought we’d offer it up as an example of resiliency.  It’s about a family forced by economic circumstance to let go of their ideas of well off suburban living.  A lot of how they live would be familiar to generations past in that it involves conserving resources and doing without.  Carbon and other footprints seem to have been reduced in this reversal of the usual success story.  Giving up the American/Canadian/Australian/British suburban dream doesn’t have to mean failure, misery and a lack of joy.  Pretty soon we all might end up…
Living Right on the “Wrong” Side of Town

If this item interests you, ask at the library for a copy of No Impact Man by Colin Beavan.  There’s also a series of articles on the Guardian website about one Mark Boyle, a man living completely without money.

 

(48) Get me to a hospital!

America has think tanks.  It would be tough to count just how many there are.  Luckily, at least one or two are getting their collective brain power around suburban poverty.  This posting links to a research brief from the Center for Studying Health Care Change.  The brief looks at health care data for poorer suburban populations in Boston, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Miami, and Seattle.  It seems these populations rely on visits to hospital emergency departments and face barriers to service including transportation.  Many suburban poor it seems also travel to hospitals in older core areas that face this demand for service on top of local, urban demands.  This document adds thoughtful detail to what suburban poverty means in the United States.
Suburban poverty and the health care safety net

(47) No ride? No job!

Leaving core city areas for cheaper housing in the suburbs is one of the few strategies available to lower income people.  Thing is, when they get out to the suburbs public transit is scarce and car ownership sometimes mandatory.  The financial requirements of getting around,  especially reaching a workplace, could easily soak up any gains from the cheaper housing.

These two links are to short items on Wired blogs.  They mention a Brookings Institution report into the matter and a recent American civil rights conference which concluded that reasonable access to transportation is actually a human right.

Ever wait in snow up to your ankles for a bus at 5:30 in the morning?  Ever have the timing belt snap on a fifteen year old Honda Civic in an industrial park after getting off the afternoon shift?  If so, you know what it’s all about.

No public transit? No job…
Transportation as a civil rights issue

(46) Feed Melbourne

The photo attached to the article linked below could have been taken in any of the English-speaking countries.  What a drag that is!  The fact that very large, resource-rich countries like Canada, Australia and the States see working people struggling with crap wages, a high cost of living and the threat of downward mobility is bad news.  I wonder if they have Dollarama down there?
FEED MELBOURNE: Hunger in our suburbs Diamond Valley Leader
Feed Melbourne Campaign

(43) Suburban safety nets?

Resiliency is a charcteristic normally discussed in relation to a single individual.  The ability to persevere, to grow, to find resources, to face obstacles and keep moving forward is admired in people.  What is good in a person is good in an entire community, too.  The resilience of suburban living arrangements is increasingly in question.  Leaving aside the possible energy and economic future of suburban living we think it fair to say that the suburbs simply grew too fast.  Is it possible that traditional non-profit agencies, state/provincial, municipal, and even national governmental social service agencies simply cannot cope?  A couple of academics associated with the University of California and the Brookings Institution recently studied the problems of suburban poverty in Chicago, Denver, Atlanta, and Detroit.  An important conclusion was that philanthropy could make a serious counter attack on suburban poverty.  In an era of public sector fiscal disaster it is hard to come up with other ideas, but will it happen?
The safety net is thin in suburbs despite growing poverty UC Berkely

(22) Detroit

Some effort is required to picture a hundred thousand houses, let alone that number  left abandoned.
Here’s 100 of them for starters.
Images and statistics of a decayed and dying Detroit have been widely circulated and have become almost a commonplace feature of the Internet.  The criticism of such imagery as mere ruin porn is justified …to a point.  Yet, how ironic that Detroit is the place that spawned the Model T automobile.  Mass produced for sale to the a mass industrial populace the Model T was the grand, uber-progenitor of the primary tool of participation in suburban living – the private automobile.
Squatters Are Taking Over Detroit’s 100,000 Vacant Homes