On suburbia and sustainability

The Passionately Alive entry I already cited this morning also contains two very interesting bits of media talking about suburbia and sustainability that are worth resposting. First, a trailer for The End of Suburbia:


And secondly, an excerpt from The Suburban Nation (pages 117-118):

    The plight of the suburban housewife was powerfully conveyed in a letter we received in 1990 from a woman living outside of Tulsa:

    Dear Architects:

    I am a mother of four children who are not able to leave the yard because of our city’s design. Ever since we have moved here I have felt like a caged animal only let out for a ride in the car. It is impossible to walk even to the grocery store two blocks away. If our family wants to go for a ride we need to load two cars with four bikes and a baby cart and drive four miles to the only bike path in this city of over a quarter million people. I cannot exercise unless I drive to a health club that I had to pay $300 to, and that is four and a half miles away. There is no sense of community here on my street, either, because we all have to drive around in our own little worlds that take us fifty miles a day to every corner of the surrounding five miles.

    I want to walk somewhere so badly that I could cry. I miss walking! I want the kids to walk to school. I want to walk to the store for a pound of butter. I want to take the kids on a neighborhood stroll or bike. My husband wants to walk to work because it is so close, but none of these things is possible…And if you saw my neighborhood, you would think that I had it all according to the great American dream.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at pcNielsen.com.

2 Responses to On suburbia and sustainability

  1. Heather says:

    I’ve been thinking about suburbia often lately (i.e. watch for upcoming blog post). I miss living in the city (even when the city was not my preferred one), and I mourned moving to the suburbs. But here’s my question: with the big push for everyone to move into the city, are we saying that the suburbs are irredeemable? Further, what happens to the people we leave behind? I say this as someone who wants to move back to the city but who has also strove to find beauty and create beauty where I am (beauty including community). Is it possible to create community and, perhaps, little cities in our suburbs?

    • pcNielsen says:

      “are we saying that the suburbs are irredeemable?”

      That is a question others have asked. IIRC I’ve blogged about it a little bit here on TAE, but I’m not recalling what I said or who I quoted. It’s a valid question because, quite obviously, the suburbs aren’t just going to go away. Even if everyone wants to move to the city, that infrastructure isn’t going to just be abandoned.

      Something possibly related that I remember reading a few months (well, probably 6-8 months) back talked about how McMansions in the burbs were being turned into apartments. The same has happened in US history, when certain areas become less hip or desirable . . .

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