(30) Free food

Here’s an interesting piece from the New York Times.  It’s about a woman who forages for food growing on foreclosed residential properties.  She boldy goes where no one can afford to live any more and finds peppers, melons, all kinds of things.  There’s something really cool about this sure sign of suburban contraction.  Lately, suburban-poverty.com has been scouting abandoned orchards and fruit trees, too.  We’re looking for a free crop to share with others, imperfect and organic-by-abandonment is fine with us.  We’ll do the work, too.

At vacant homes, foraging for fruit see slideshow as well

(29) On top of it all: job sprawl

Next bus in forty-four minutes, or fifty-five minutes, except on Sundays or before seven a.m. or after rush hour, …or maybe never!  Typical scheduling for hard pressed working people dependant on Suburbland’s diesel bus dominated public transit.  It’s a wonder anyone can hold down a job in Sprawlville.  Long, multiple-transfer bus rides across Edge Cities in order to hold down some crap job suck the life out of you.  We’ve wondered about the justice of this for some time here at suburban-poverty.com.  Once again the Brookings Institution rides up with the evidence.  God bless Brookings!
Job sprawl and the suburbanization of poverty

Newspaper columnist Heather Mallick recently wrote with some passion about a proposed fare hike for Toronto Transit Commission users.  The TTC was once the envy of many a city but now is badly stressed, barely able to reconcile the urban and suburban needs of riders.  God bless you too, Heather!
Mallick: TTC fare hike like poison for the poor

editor’s note
: it once took us two hours and five minutes to get home from a gig cleaning cars in North York to our place in Parkdale.  We had early signs of hypothermia when we got in the door.  We have not harboured resentment ever since, fuckers.

(28) Reburbia contest [2009]

Editorial staffers at the suburban-poverty.com office park have been looking for solutions to suburban dysfunction, not just descriptions of it.  One of the most imaginative and interesting collections of good ideas yet seen came together in 2009 for Dwell magazine’s Reburbia competition.  We were immediately enamoured of such things as Zeppelin-based public transit and monster homes repurposed as dispersed water biofiltration plants.  Far out at times, yes.  But things are unsustainable as they are now.
Reburbia winners announced 

(27) OCAP open letter [2008]

From time-to-time in the Greater Toronto Area a group called OCAP, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, can garner attention for its activism.  The general public alternates between apathy toward, and disapproval of, anything to do with OCAP.  Among recent efforts is the open letter to Premier McGuinty at the link below.  It makes a specific criticism of a municipal program designed to relieve homelessness in Toronto.  The group objects to the way the program involves relocating those experiencing homelessness out of downtown areas to the edges.
Open Letter to Mayor David Miller, Councilor Joe Mihevc and Streets To Homes Manager Iain De Jong 

(26) Suburban homelessness

For most of us, urban street people are generally what comes to mind when we hear the word homeless.  People without secure and reasonable access to permanent places to live populate the suburbs in growing numbers.  They are just less readily visible.  They can include ‘couch-surfing’ young people, tent campers living alongside rivers or in woodlots and people in shelters or living in a motor vehicle.  They are hard to count and hard to bring services to.
Suburban homeless
“Suburban homelessness has its own set of challenges. Suburbs often lack public transportation, shelters, and government assistance agencies. By far the largest hurdle the suburban homeless have to overcome is that they are not supposed to exist.”
Last refuge for the homeless: living in the car
  

(25) Commuting & divorce

Swedish researchers have linked marriage stress and failure with long commutes.  In sociological enquiry of any kind the underlying idea seems to be to constantly generate new questions.  This study does that in droves.  Big mortgages for suburban homes require major time investments in commuting.  Many now live in one suburb and commute to another suburb.  Not easy.
Long commutes bad for marriage
A long commute to work might further job prospects and put more money in the bank but it could also increase the risk for divorce by 40 percent, a new study from Umeå University in northern Sweden shows”


Towards the tail end of the boom the media in North America coined the term “supercommuter” for people cruising as much as ninety minutes each way between home and workplace.  Presumably that was by choice.  Now, the Great Recession seems to be incentivizing some long drives.
Recession breeds wave of supercommuters

(23) Shopping mauled

Out on the new, poorer frontier there’s at least one fun thing we can all bank on: dead shopping malls.  Perhaps along with zombie car dealerships and deep coma garden centres the malls will form a stock of adaptable, recyclable structures more suited to a post-cheap energy and post-high finance world?  Are you wagering that stash of gold bars and shot gun shells on it?  Didn’t think so.

Ghosts of shopping past photo gallery
Malls of a certain age audio link on page
“The enclosed mall itself, though, is as dead as your average big-city newspaper. Which is to say: not dead yet, exactly, but no one’s betting on its future.”
Dead Malls