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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Street Wise: Suburban Nation

A few quotes from Suburban Nation:

"Given that most time in public is spent driving around in isolation chambers, it is no surprise that social critics are witnessing a decline in the civic arts of conversation, politics, and just simply getting along. There are those who view suburbanization as merely another symptom of this malaise, rather than a cause, but their arguments ignore the degree to which the atomization of our society into suburban clusters was the result of specific government and industry policies rather than of some popular mandate" (62-63)

"It bears repeating: we shape our cities and then our cities shape us. The choice is ours whether we build subdivisions that debase the human spirit or neighborhoods that nurture sociability and bring out the best in our nature. The techniques for achieving the latter are well known, and available to all who wish to make places worth caring about." (83)

"'Whatever happened to a natural diversity?' [some ask, who are uncomfortable with the idea of managed growth and design]. 'Are there any real places left?' The surprising answer to that question is that a lack of management has proven to be the enemy of diversity....Variety is achieved not through natural selection but through careful programming." (169) (This is borne out through examining municipalities who have successfully integrated, and remained that way: in the Chicago area, towns such as Oak Park or Park Forest have been very intentional about integration issues and have actively managed the process. Other areas, such as the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago, which were not managed but experienced block busting by unscrupulous realtors, witnessed almost 100% racial turnover in a very brief time. -ed.)

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