” …car-centric suburban neighbourhoods with multi-level homes and scarce sidewalks are a poor match for people who can’t climb stairs or drive a car.”
Here’s a feature that profiles a boomer-age man in a subdivision dating from what appears to date to the 1970s through 1990s. Like millions of other people in the United States and Canada his mind is turning to the latter stages of life when such things as income and mobility go decline as health and social services needs go up. Such a great turning is bound to influence our communities in every possible way. Some thought and planning has gone into this realigning of things but we get the feeling it isn’t yet enough. This item does a very nice job of setting out the basic proposition with a brace of statistics and writerly turns of phrase. Recommended reading.
If a given nation’s welfare system took on some of the characteristics of its surveillance system, what would that be like?
Pregnant, on Medicaid and being watched
image: plaisanter via Flickr/CC
Fairfax County, Virginia is probably still a great place to be a loaded, property-owning American. But, it does sound like it just isn’t quite what it used to be financially, or otherwise, and in that it seems to point to the trend for most of the country’s aging suburbs.
This model of wealthy suburban living is starting to fray
Once-industrialized areas of San Francisco that were home to a blue collar middle class continue to move into suburban poverty.
As Bay Area poverty shifts from cities to suburbia, services lag
In Stockholm, a proposal to make snow plowing priorities better for women
Extreme cold forces TTC to take streetcars out of service. Toronto will be down 50 streetcars just in time for rush hour
Time for Toronto to embrace winter in the city
Walkable winter cities when the weather is frightful!
image: New City Gas Company in Montreal by Gates of Ale via Wikimedia Commons
What a role model for Canada! Imagine knowing that you and your neighbours would never fall below a certain minimum standard of living ever again. Imagine powerfully bolstering this society against precarious employment, downward mobility, food insecurity, social exclusion, austerity and crime while making it physically healthier and happier. You know, sometimes there are magic bullets and some problems can be solved by throwing money at them.
Concern over inequality seems to have allowed Swiss activists to force a referendum on the basic guaranteed income which would be the equivalent of nearly three thousand Canadian dollars a month. This is dramatic stuff: 120,000 signatures were quickly collected for the petition required to secure the referendum, backed up by the emptying of a twelve-wheeled dump truck full of five cent coins in front of the Swiss parliament in Bern. There were enough coins to represent each of Switzerland’s eight million people. The date for the referendum has not been set but it follows legislation driven by public anger earlier this year that caps executive compensation. Wow! This is a very serious contrast to shut-down America, cut-back Britain and a Canada still deeply in the throes of failed neoconservative policy. We bet many Canadians have no ability even to imagine this kind of prosperity and security.
Swiss vote for sweet minimum monthly wage: $2800
RT.com – see pictures of coin demonstration
Nearly a decade ago Toronto established a set of priority neighbourhoods to focus efforts at reducing social difficulty. By-and-large the establishment of priority neighbourhoods has been seen as a good thing. The time has come to re-examine the list and see what kinds of adjustments are to be made. Every one of the priority neighbourhoods is located in what you can fairly describe as a suburb. Only two-and-one-third of the designated areas are south of Highway 401 or west of Highway 404. The outcome of the analysis the United Way and city officials generate will tell us a lot about suburban poverty in Canada’s largest city. More importantly it tells us what will be done about it.
Short features in response to the Brookings Institution’s new book Confronting Suburban Poverty have been accumulating steadily from all over America. This is one from just across the Canadian border in Buffalo, NY and it features a visit to a drop in centre.
Drop in centres provide court quality evidence of the existence of suburban poverty should anyone happen to need it. They are usually informal, volunteer- and donation-driven places where people exiting the middle class often have their first encounter with the realities of downward mobility. Located in ad hoc premises most of the time and frequently sponsored by religious organizations with or without a bit of official help they have formed a major component of many a community response to suburban poverty. They can be fairly powerful places despite their challenges.
Coffee-and-carbs, water and juice are usually on offer and there are efforts made at helping out with used clothing, food, bus tickets, footwear, meals, diapers, school supplies, household items. Referrals and all kinds of advice are their stock-in-trade. Drop in centres sometimes don’t look like much but when well run they can attract a surprising array of helpers and donations: everything from a no longer needed suit for a job interview to pizza leftover from a corporate meeting. Before long a good drop in centre becomes a focal point for a number of practical relationships and associations directly responding to immediate needs.
It can be stressful trying to maintain consistent levels of help to a large group of people in difficulty. Boundaries are challenged constantly, but amazing things happen in the drop ins and positive anecdotes grow fast, at times by the day. In moving past describing suburban poverty to relieving suburban poverty there could be worse things to do than strengthen the drop in centres.
image: post office building in Buffalo, NY by Pubdog via Wikimedia Commons