Walk Score is an online software tool that assesses the basic characteristics of any address in Canada or the United States given to it. Your neighbourhood is rated by an algorithm between 0 and 100 for ease of access to a list of general amenities, such common sense things as schools, cinemas, bus stops. Its intentions are generally progressive and supportive of the idea that a walkable community is simply nicer to live in and easier on the environment and therefore more desirable. Walk Score is often used by people looking for a new neighbourhood and it can be quite fairly said to be a barometer of the quality of life in a given place. A strong Walk Score, would reflect the humane values of urbanist Jane Jacobs. A low Walk Score might be reflected in a less salubrious environment.
So, it was a little disorienting to come across a Texas mom’s utilization of Walk Score today. All those people nearby in your dense, cross-connected community? Well, if things got tough they might just kill you and eat your brain, right? If there was a pandemic, a civil war, an infrastructure and economic crash all at the same time you want to be ready, right? You need maximum info on where to be when things get even dumber than they already are.
Jamie, who seems super nice and obviously really loves her kids, blogged about the way she applies Walk Score to her preparations for the coming apocalypse. Walk Score provides her with intel on her kind of community. The index tells Jamie where she doesn’t want to be.
This is almost a mirror opposite use of Walk Score for assessing resilience. Flying deeper into the century, each to their own anxiety, we suppose…
Walk score. One test preppers want their home to FAIL!
image: Jeremy Brooks via Flickr/CC
Barely anyone at large in the industrial, consumer, automotive, real estate complex we call home has escaped the call of the lottery ticket. Deep down, even the most sensible and realistic of us harbours a fantasy of something for nothing here. We think of all the good things we could do for those we care about or all the crazy shit we could do for ourselves. Either way, we frequently line up at that most suburban of settings, the gas station, and lay down several hours pay in our minimum wage job for a piece of paper that could change everything. Time to think a little more about the psycho-social effects of the lotteries, yeah?
EIther way, good luck and don’t forget to give us some.
Robin Hoodwinked:how billion dollar powerballs reflect 21st century inequality. State lotteries take from the poor to give to the rich, but we have options and there is a game-changing alternative
US basic income activist Scott Santens on medium.com
image: Mark Turnauckus via Flickr/CC
We need to work less to live better
David Suzuki at rabble.ca
Subdivided. City Building In An Age of Hyper-Diversity
Jay Pitter & John Lorinc, editors
2016. Coach House Books, Toronto
279 pages. $20.95 CAN
This collection of essays was much tougher reading than we expected. After nearly six years blogging about social difficulty in the suburbs we don’t expect to be unnerved by our topic. Subdivided unnerved us.
The good old days of multiculturalism, in which eastern and southern Europeans (and maybe a few other groups), found Toronto adjusting to, and eventually welcoming, them are long gone. In its place, we now see an ever bigger and richer Toronto home to newcomers in a living arrangement of hyper-diversity. This infinitely more complex Toronto is by turns depressing, ugly, unjust and unequal despite recurrent commentary about its peacefulness, high socio-cultural potential and general awesomeness.
Subdivided delivers unto us many a less-than-comfortable truth. There’s too many people here in isolated lives centred on a combination of shit jobs and lacklustre housing. Reading Subdivided made us feel like Toronto’s diversity is the stuff of an Adam Curtis documentary, another nightmarish expression of the global economic machine and its operating system, neoliberalism.
That toughness of presentation is what makes this collection of essays so amazing, so real. It’s hard to think of any other such wellspring of direct, sustained observation of what it is really like to live here. A chapter on Brampton, for example, brings forth a wave of nausea faster than a jar of expired mayonnaise. ‘Browntown’ is next door to suburban-poverty.com’s backyard, we can attest to the truth of what is said here about Brampton. Same for another entry on Mississauga, which is literally our backyard. You’d almost wonder why Canada bothers attracting new residents to its Sprawlvilles. Except perhaps as a cycnical ploy to increase domestic markets and the tax base and to fulfill some corporate/ideological role in the global economy.
What to do? Good transit, a strong social safety net, higher wages, police reform, and affordable housing would help us toward a healthy, cross-connected society according to the essays in Subdivided. None of these things will be achieved quickly or cheaply, though.
We better get busy before something really awful comes of the present lame and indifferent regime of city building in greater Toronto. Stress is not good for the indivdual or the community. Stress and reaction brought us Rob Ford, the scale model mock up of Donald Trump. Who knows what the stresses of race and class we are leaving in place will inflict on us? We aren’t Milwaukee yet but how much longer will we sleepwalk into this?
We suggest future editions of Subdivided include a stamped, pre-addressed thank you card readers can mail to the one percent.
Buy Subdivided for your unnerved urban affairs shelf.
Found yourself that soul mate online yet? Maybe you aren’t trying hard enough at your assortative dating. From cardboard license plates to ATM desserts: there’s no end to the ways material circumstance and economic standing affects pretty much every second of every day.
The inequality of online dating
image: Eugenia Loli via Flickr/CC