Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The End of the 'Burbs!?

The End of the Suburbs is nigh? Really?! That's great... for the environment, but are all those people going to move back into the city? and if they do, what'll happen to their McMansions? They'll be my NEIGHBORS?!

There's been a lot of writing about how, what with the mortgage foreclosures, and the credit crisis and all, suburban sprawl will end. One can only hope. It would take a monumental shift in culture and attitude, as the NYT points out, but it may be what happens, given the crunch that a huge number of regular people are facing.

The Atlantic Monthly, in its article, however, points out that once the exurbs are vacant, the land still has pipes under it and roads all over it. It's not like it can easily be "re-purposed" back into wilderness or farmland. Which is the whole argument against sprawl in the first place. Instead, the housing is likely to become modern-day tenement housing run by slumlords. Great.

It would have been nice if the people planning the exurbs had taken a look at former suburbs. And what ends up happening to parcels of land when individual families start living in a place. The Human Flower Project has a nice piece about small gardens in Cambridge, and how they vary. Some are used as parking spaces, some are actually used for green of various kinds.

I guess it's all a matter of perspective. I now live in what was once a suburb of Philadelphia, now well within the city limits. I favor dense "green" living and local farmland that produces food over sprawl and buying food from other countries. But not so long ago, my house was in the 'burbs, and my food came to the 'hood by train. I guess it's a matter of degrees... "food for thought!" :)

P.S. If you've read this far, and you live in or near Philly and/or care about science, there is a move afoot to try to get the candidates to attend a Presidential Debate on Science. The debate is scheduled for April 18 at The Franklin Institute. For more information, go here. Found this exciting news on the Bad Astronomy Blog.

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