The Uncanny Valley

Notes on art, culture and preservation

Posts Tagged ‘suburbs

Is American sprawl helping the terrorists win?

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Before the 20th century, obviously

On the surface, it’s an absurd correlation. And yet, as Patrick Doherty writes (and Emily Badger further analyzes), the history of real estate development over the 20th century was closely linked to pressing concerns of national defense.

The federal government paved highways across the United States in part for security purposes. Besides keeping nuclear facilities accessible while out of harm’s way, they ushered in an era of suburban housing and consumption that de-centered the nation’s urban economy and yielded the financial muscle required to hold its own against Soviet Russia.

That was then. The key to addressing today’s foreign policy threats? Walkable communities. Badger writes:

Doherty’s basic idea is that pent-up demand for such communities could help power a new American economic engine in the same way that suburban housing (and all of the consumption that came with it) made America economically and globally powerful in the Cold War era.

This idea may change how you look at the mixed-use condo on your street corner (it’s helping to make America strong again!). But it also changes how you may think about the history of suburban development.

And this is where the correlation between sustainability and defense becomes obvious. Greater walkability means less need for oil, which means, one hopes, fewer international conflicts springing from demand for the earth’s resources.

Interesting read throughout. Try suggesting that as an argument for more density and fewer parking spots in the city…just anticipate some icy stares from neighbors at the next zoning meeting.

“Walkable Urbanism as Foreign Policy” [The Atlantic Cities]

“A New U.S. Grand Strategy” [Foreign Policy]

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Written by cwmote

January 31, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Gee, thanks for reminding me of what a cold puritanical country I just left

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OK, so it’s not the best way to introduce the fact that I’ve been in Buenos Aires for the last week, and will be here for several (perhaps many) more to come. That introduction will come later. Why not put off introductions till later when you can cut and paste stories like this here and now?

A New Jersey family said a police officer asked them to cover up portions of their snow sculpture — a nude tribute to the Venus de Milo.

Rahway police Sgt. Dominick Sforza said an officer visited the home of Elisa Gonzalez, who built the snow sculpture with daughter Maria Conneran, 21, and son Jack Shearing, 12, last week on an anonymous complaint “of a naked snow woman”….

And the sculpture really does look like the real thing, even though it’s too symmetrical and doesn’t have a head. And yes, they did put a bikini over it. But please, it’s snow. Do you know how many chances the public actually get to make public art with readily found and free materials?

Of course, one anonymous call does not make for a philistine society. If anything, the fact that a 12-year-old helped sculpt this thing means the suburbs are verging ever closer to enlightenment. But indulge me: I wouldn’t have normalcy if I didn’t have the old sensation-driven media to read through and smack about. Just take it that I’m jealous that I can’t drive up the Turnpike to see the sculpture before it melts.

P.S. If this otherwise harmless public art offends you, don’t come to Buenos Aires. Every other newsstand has a scad of magazines with topless women on the covers. It’s really something. Either censorship is a thing of the past, or the sight of breasts doesn’t shock anymore.

P.P.S. Don’t come here either.

Written by cwmote

March 4, 2010 at 7:54 pm