California. So much wealth and potential alongside such difficulty. Disneyland and tent cities. Again and again in neoliberal North American life wages and the cost of housing jam working people up against the wall.
Grim reading from august commentator on American community James Howard Kunstler. The author of seminal work The Geography of Nowhere sees direct ties between sprawl-lived lives and the gun nihilsm of America. Suburbia has been Kunstler’s thing for decades now and we respect his words. Even if he has become a little reactive, a touch cranky in recent years, any wisdom on this matter is surely welcome and his probably more than many others. The resort to maximum hand-held firepower as a response to one’s environment staggers the imagination and really has for decades now. What to do on this file? Thank the God of your choice this is not Canada Dear Readers.
Just as the season begins to turn, though more these days that turning is about the relentless churning of some Category 5 hurricane than the expected memory of back-to-school rituals and soul-soothing autumn colours, advance word comes from Las Vegas of hot futures. The premier example of unsustainable sprawl in North America is now finding out what it is like to be on the public health front line of climate change. What else is it but a public health disaster if you cannot go outside? What if you are kinda stuck outside? How does this quotation grab you from an item in today’s Guardian? ”… homeless people with post-mortem burns from collapsing on hot streets.”
Bankhead from the outside looks like a place that would be pretty hard to love. In other words, it is much like much of the United States. The Atlanta neighbourhood has seen better days, yes, and with some investment from a multi-award winning musician with roots there Bankhead may rise up yet.
As part of the great collective cultural effort to sum it all up in the prelude to the Millennium we at this blog certainly remember Joel Garreau’s book Edge City: Life On the New Frontier with an affectionate sense of its importance. It certainly remains recommended reading for anyone trying to understand North American community building. It’s a layered pleasure then to come across a long feature on Citylab that checks in with Garreau on where cities, edge and otherwise, are a quarter century on from his popular opus.
A series in Slate does the job working over the downward tilt in fortune for American suburban living. Worth a visit. I suppose we Ontarians are looking to protect ourselves from this kind of socioeconomic illness how?
By electing Doug Ford premier?
If one thing could be said to symbolize the transition from the twentieth century to the present one it might be the tragic death of glamour in air travel. Added now to the boring sorrows of security screening, economy seating, airline performance and global carbon footprints must surely be this phenomenon: homeless people living in airports.
The general look and feel of Los Angeles, California is readily understood by anyone who has spent any time near North America’s sprawl lands. The sheer size of Los Angeles, and the inequality and environmental racism it contains — however familiar it’s basic form — is enough to give pause to anyone, though.
Certainly there’s visual evidence nearly everywhere of what is said to be a homeless population now numbering fifty thousand. Beat up recreational vehicles are homes to many Angelenos. You come across them constantly. People camp everywhere from the lawns at city hall to highway medians.
By the late 1970s it seems that a sense of dread had become so attached to this brutally car-dependent collection of over eighty municipal entities that a truly massive investment in rail-based public transit was kicked off. While plagued with construction challenges, including major cost overruns, this program has been bearing fruit for a while now. There are also voices fighting for cycling and walking and the bus network. The latter is especially important to the working people of Los Angeles.
Please take a look at this Los Angelist video about the Metro Red Line. Much of the rationale found in it is applicable to Canadian cities, to sprawl lands found anywhere. The sheer enormity of Los Angeles helps bring these issues into focus perhaps in a way much more raw than they might be encountered where you live but there is much to be learned.