It's time for a big letting go. The rich nations have got to say
farewell to the strange notion which has gripped us for the last half
century and recognize that the suburban life style – with its 2 car
garage, its lawns in the desert, its strip malls – is completely
unsustainable. More than that though, it isn't even really "the good
There's never going to be more oil readily available than there is
now. Nor more natural gas, either. Suburbia relies on these, not only
for its residents to be able to get to shops or work and to heat their
homes, but also to build the homes and the accoutrements associated
with this lifestyle.
And it isn't even that great a lifestyle. Do people really form
tighter bonds with their neighbors in a suburb than they do in a
mixed-use city block or the countryside? Do people in the suburbs feel
connected to the communities surrounding their neighborhood? If you
have to drive to get to anything, do you feel anything but distanced
from the places you move through?
3 thoughts on “Goodbye, Suburbia”
Oh, amen to this! We were talking about this last weekend! The feeling of disconnect, the void of architectural interest (I get lost in the messes of tract homes), the amount of gas and time required for a commute and to get anything done… not worth it for us. We live five minutes north of downtown, can walk to an organic market, independent video store, library, pharmacy, etc. We know our neighbors and a healthy number of people in our neighborhood. My commute time is 10 minutes (with traffic).
I second the first post. We live in town within walking distance of my favorite 4: the library, the grocery store, the park, and a bus stop. My mother and father just recently bought a house in the burbs and it is so lame driving way out there. If we do take the bus out there it takes at least 45 min.(15 by car) and then we have to walk 2 miles after we get off the bus. Crazy I tell you..
Six years ago our family decided that we didn’t want to spend the rest of our lives in the car and moved into the city. The smaller house (a 1912 bungalow) is three blocks from three grocery stores, one of the local arthouse cinemas, a yoga studio, our vet’s office and the biggest urban green space in the city. Two of us now telecommute and one takes the bus to the university (stop across the street; light rail runs until 1, night buses until 3).
There are home grocery and dairy deliveries (our local dairy is introducing organic produce boxes!), used CD/DVD exchanges/bookstores, thrift stores that do home pickups, and a nationally recognized library that’s five minutes away by public transit.
One car is ample for three adults (if Zipcar was available here, it would be gone); next spring we’re tearing out the carport and alley parking spaces that are taking up half of the square footage in the back garden and putting in raised vegetable beds. That will still leave the off-street garage so important in an urban neighborhood — but it’s my belief that as energy usage begins to move away from individually owned large-scale transport, the next people to own this house will be converting that large space into a workshop: three of my neighbors have done just that.