For a half century, it’s been easy to mock suburbia for being too comfortable, white-bread and conformist. That’s all changed in the last 18 months as many suburbs have abruptly taken on a sense of tragedy and desperation–a fact that underlies Obama’s trip to devastated Lee County, Florida, later today. Drug violence, gangs pillaging half-empty subdivisions for scrap metal, skateboarders reclaiming the pools of abandoned McMansions, and whole streets of dead lawns spray-painted green have emerged as the new symbols of life in the ‘burbs.
One man who foresaw all the ugliness is Christopher Leinberger. The Brookings Institute fellow and distinguished scholar of the suburban living arrangement has decades of experience in real estate development and urban planning. The meme of doomed suburbs went mainstream with his cover story for the Atlantic magazine last March, “The Next Slum?” The problem, he says, goes much deeper than the foreclosure crisis. It’s part of a painful societal adjustment that will take a generation or more to work through.
After heralding the crash of America’s predominant living arrangement, his latest efforts are devoted to showing how suburbs can adjust and reemerge as healthy communities. In this conversation he analyzes the roots of suburbia’s current plight and explains how three straightforward adjustments to infrastructure can save a community.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Here's a great discussion from the Infrastructurist about how to fix America's dying suburbs (via desmoinesdem):