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
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
Isn’t it amazing that anybody has to ask a question like this at all? Let’s see now, 33 million people divide by an economy worth 1.3 trillion a year equals …not much excuse for poverty, suburban or otherwise, right?
Labour Day 2011: What Has Gone Wrong in Canada for Working People?
If we can’t spend Labour Day wallowing in the past then what good is it? Besides, there’s a lot to be learned back there. When considering suburban poverty and how we got to be where we are it’s hard to ask for a better starting point than a particular item in the archives of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. From late 1954, this News Magazine feature examines the state of housing in the entire country. The music and voice over evoke the seriousness of war time. Sure, there is a Levittownesque optimism but there’s also a grim tone regarding affordability and the extent of the costly undertaking of keeping the working families of a growing country properly housed. The persistence of 1930s-style poverty wherein “housewives struggle against decay and filth” is openly acknowledged, too. The latter did much to drive the exertions required to build suburbia and is easily forgotten in 2011. Two approaches to housing Canadians are seen. Public housing – urban redevelopment in Regent Park – and private suburban housing in Don Mills. The latter was among Canada’s first couple of planned suburbs.
CBC News Magazine: White Picket Dreams
None other than Commie Rambo Ernesto Che Guevara wrote down a series of principles for suburban warfare. He saw the suburban environment as a unique and difficult venue for guerrilla fighters. His particular vision is long gone but others have been giving some thought to what might come to pass out on the perimeter. Survivalists have certainly been around forever and the invention of the internet gave them a boost. Normally, we’d associate this ammo-and-canned-food-hoarding crowd with rural areas, not suburbia. At least, until we came across these blogs that is. Perhaps things are changing? Did you know acorns can be an awesome post-collapse food source?
Lock and load!
Surviving the Suburbs
Suburban Survival Blog
Historica is the semi-regular feature on suburban-poverty.com that helps you learn how we got here in the first place. Levittown was North America’s first major post-war mass suburb. This short film features Ford tractors in use during Levittown’s construction. It begins with a drive out of New York City to the countryside where a new way of life was being built. The scene is almost cute by comparison to the monster home- and big box retail-dominated Edge Cities of today. You’ll also meet Ed, Ralph and Teeny, the guys who built Levittown. Thanks, guys!
The blog Infrastructurist published an interview in 2009 with Christopher Leinberger. He has done quite a bit to bring the concept of suburban poverty to the mainstream. Leinberger attributes much of the problem to supply and demand and to changing lifestyle expectations. In other words, the magic of the market created the problem and will fix it. Leinberger thinks it will take about thirty years for suburbia to adapt. We love the sound of many of the adaptations required: walkable, mixed-use urban hubs and rail-based public transit for example. He seems to be saying it’s a tall order but achieveable even if there will be losers along the way. Perhaps this effort at structural adaptation could be put in place under government guidance as a response to what really does seem like the end of growth but a dissonance emerges right away. A continental refitting of suburbia would require epic amounts of capital to start and maintain which makes Leinberger’s ideas seem almost hallucinatory given the impairments of the global financial system. At a couple of points Leinberger indicates he is well in touch with reality. He mentions the phenomenon of suburban houses converted into flophouses for groups of unrelated men. Certainly, Leinberger’s efforts at the Brookings Institution also indicate much comprehension of suburban poverty and dysfunction. His take on what to actually do with suburbia is both attractive and disappointing.
How to Save the Suburbs: Solutions from the Man Who Saw the Whole Thing Coming
Vancouver police have turned to the Internet hoping to identify and charge people who took part in looting, assault, and vandalism during riots after this year’s Stanley Cup. The police website indicates that 41 rioteers have so far been arrested or turned themselves in. A breakdown of where 37 of them came from indicates only 7 were from Vancouver proper. The majority were suburban young people, 9 from Surrey alone.
With recent disturbances in London, England the question was raised about the decision to riot, wreck and loot where you live. Youth from the suburbs rioting, wrecking and looting where they don’t live is less easily explained. In both locations individuals were demonstrating a total lack of connection to their surroundings. Worrisome indeed.
Integrated Riot Investigation
Some new data has become available about First Nations in Ottawa. The population is growing but becoming more spread out. Newly arriving First Nations persons are also moving directly to suburban Ottawa in a number of cases. The sterotype of aboriginal poverty in the centres of Canadian cities (and on reserves) might appear to be changing if this demographic development were to be looked at further. Unfortunately, the article indicates that there is still hardship for Ottawa’s First Nations outside of the more established neighbourhoods they have lived in there.
5 things to know about Ottawa’s aboriginal community CBC
For reasons best left undescribed, an employer had us take a Hummer H2 to a gas station for them one time. Said beast swallowed nearly $100 worth of gas like we do a mouthful of Red Stripe lager. The creepy, techno-cave of an interior was acre-upon-acre of cheap grey GM plastic. Pure materialism. Imagine then our shock when we came across the idea of using Hummer bodies as the raw material for prefab housing units. …if life on the perimeter is to be salvaged at all this might just be the kind of creative thinking and resource recycling we’re going to need.
A Better Use For Hummers: Prefab Modular Housing | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World