I've been saying for some years the American suburb - that monotone, energy-sucking, environmental monstrosity so embraced around the world, is becoming the slum of the future.
A few years ago some of my grad students in Sacramento drove to an apparently quiet suburban street and did a video cam drive-by. What they captured in their film was subtle, yet foreboding.
As the scene opens the houses on the street look suburban normal...with a few twists: Multi-family duplexes, cement lots replacing lawns, drapes covering window. What they discovered behind the drapes was another story: Overcrowding, high crime rates and fear off the charts. Gang shootings were not uncommon.
We were miles from downtown. Yet it felt like an urban slum.
This week in The Atlantic Monthly magazine there are series of articles about the economic collapse. There are two you should read: Richard Florida's article How the Crash Will Reshape America (see Florida's article) and Christopher Leinberger's article The Next Slum (see Leinberger's article) .
Florida believes the current crash will not look much like the Great Depression, but he does think it will reshape our urban geography. Some cities will flourish, some will not. The key to success will be the creativity of what he calls our Creative Class.
Leinberger takes the argument beyond. He thinks the crash will hasten the demise of the suburb. Goodbye to McMansion. Hello extinction. He cites data suggesting that 40% of today's large-lot homes will be vacant within 15 years.
This seems like a good time to talk about how we come out of these times. That's what our blog radio show is about.
The blog is moderated by my friend Deborah Osborne - an internationally recognized expert in crime analysis and former analyst with the Buffalo Police. She has been chair of the Police Futurists International and research fellow at the Center for Strategic Intelligence Research.
If there is anyone who thinks strategically and innovatively about the future, it is Deborah.
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