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The Case Against Suburban Sprawl

James Kunstler, a remarkable writer, blogs at the somewhat controversial but always on point “Clusterfuck Nation.”

If you have a tolerance for language peppered with words like “clusterfuck” then add James to your regular reading – he is prolific, he is verbose and he is always passionate.

If not, then wait on Katie Couric or Anderson Cooper to say the exact same thing, but to process it more palatably for your tender brain.

Kunstler

Mr. Kunstler has written about the “mutilation of American cities,” post-World War II suburban blight and sprawl, and the general economic, political and sociological “problems” of these United States, since the early 1970′s during his days as a writer for Rolling Stone and since 1975 when he dropped out and began writing books.

Today’s article, “Original Sin” details how the banking industry became propped up by suburban sprawl and how the unsustainable growth of “consumer culture” has broken down into a heap of chipboard and vinyl.

If you are a child of suburbia like I am, then I think that you’ll find some stability, and some structure to keep things as sturdy and as counterbalanced as possible in your life, by reading the works of James Kunstler.

If you live in Intown Atlanta, then you should feel better about the roots of our city in September 2009, even if you look through the somewhat jaded lens of James Kunstler.

In spite of a crime problem – don’t miss this article from today’s AJC for a blow by blow of Atlanta’s recent slide – in spite of some white collar jobs going away, in spite of some overbuilding and in spite of some zombie neighborhoods and zombie neighbors right here inside our city limits, I suggest that you should feel better about being Intown, than in being “out of town.”

suburban blight

Maybe Mr. Kunstler can set this expectation for you better than I can – here’s a clip from the article entitled “Original Sin:”

“…The evacuation of the cities to the new outlands proceeded as relentlessly as the landings at Normandy. It wasn’t until the program was well underway that the self-destructive essence of it became obvious — that every new housing subdivision killed the original rural character of the land, with the result that suburban life quickly became a cartoon of country living in a cartoon of a country house in a cartoon of the country. With additional layer-on-layer of, first, the shopping in the form of highway strips, then malls, along with the office “parks,” these places elaborated themselves into a kind of cancer-of-the-landscape, a chronic and expensive condition that Americans had no choice but to live with, because of the monumental investments they had already made in it. The discontents it produced lent it to psychological depression and dark humor, just as chronic illness does. But we were stuck with it…”

Read the full article here and rest assured, your Intown Atlanta and Decatur real estate holdings are in a fundamentally better submarket than many of the other major American cities that have been hurt by the worldwide economic crisis.

Read the full article here and feel good about being hyperlocal, being Intown and not being so “sub-urban…”

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