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Old Posted Aug 4, 2011, 6:21 PM
Dr Nevergold Dr Nevergold is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Winnipeg
Posts: 20,105
Originally Posted by tredici View Post
I dunno, most people I know are getting tired of commuting 20 miles to their workplaces and looking to move to locations closer to cities. While I agree that generally Americans are in love with suburbs, having a yard, and being able to drive around, I simply don't see this overwhelming number of people that are bogged down in their love of the typical commute.

Maybe it's just that Alabama is so far behind on the urban timeline that there's no where to go but up.

Either way, I still don't think it helps the situation to tell Americans that they're urban haters. I mean, I think we all know how gullible Americans are when it comes to what is said on TV or the internet. The average American just wants to be like the average American. So, when they see that "the average American" is a "suburb loving, city hating, gasoline fiend," they're probably gonna end up being the same way.

Other people's opinions have more to do with the average persons beliefs than you think. Even though crime rates are dropping in my area, people are constantly online, commenting on news stories, about how the crime rate is skyrocketing. Saying, "I would never go into downtown, it's so dangerous!" even though downtown is one of the safest parts of town.

Bottom line is people are stupid. If they read online about the virtues of the suburb, cars, and sprawl, they're probably going to think that's the way to go. The best way to counteract that is preach the virtues of city living, not to around, arms flailing in the air say, "Bahhhh! America hates cities, bahhh!" Not that anyone's doing that, it's just a comical image in my head.

Anyways, I say combat all their stupidity with talk about what's good about cities. They're safer, more efficient, less stressful, culturally rich, and offer more recreational opportunities. Most people don't know those things, and it's because most people are senselessly convinced that cities are awful, dirty places.
I think you are actually hinting at what I've already said: the American public is hit with a massive multi-industry marketing message that the only real honorable lifestyle is the suburban or exurban lifestyle. Both urban and rural lifestyles are lambasted. Truly rural lifestyles come from making a life off of the land, not buying a far-out ranch and driving 50+ miles to a job every day and using your ranch as a symbol or image to project.

We are in a society that basically says that you are crap and less of a human being for not owning a home and owning a nice car. As much as the car is a utility, in America it is a status symbol. We Americans do this more than any other society. Drive a Prius or Insight like me? You're instantly characterized as a certain type of person. Drive a huge SUV? You're stereotyped as something else. Drive a shitty car? You're less of a person...

We judge people in our society by our cars more than any other on the Earth. I see a strong difference just between Canada and the US, Canadians largely look at car ownership the same way (who isn't impressed if you can afford a brand new, $30k car?), but there isn't nearly as much disdain for someone who uses transit and lives without a car. Right across the board, even down to smaller towns, transit use is many times more acceptable (mid-sized cities like London, Ontario have transit use many times above American metros of well over a million people). And Canada isn't even a "transit nation" in my view, it is largely a car culture just like us.

America just takes this to the extreme on the car thing, then we can get into the single family housing issue. Americans are hyper obsessed and many think it is a God-given right to own a single family house. It is the ideal of most citizens in America. Marketing tells us you're supposed to own a home, from the day we're born to the day we die. You aren't told that it is healthy and good to own a condo or to rent a flat in a city that isn't in a detached environment.

This isn't about being negative, it is about pointing out that the corporate interests for home ownership are huge, the corporate interests for selling cars is huge. They trump the urban lifestyle we on SSP like to promote.

We haven't even began to discuss how corporate America has largely started building office construction in suburban environments, refusing to locate centers of work around transit hubs and urban centers that actually allow you to live car-free. Lots of office space in America is built to avoid the urban lifestyle - not embrace it - so that you're required to drive to lunch or drive to the office and back.

The entire system is against urban living. It is very hard to find employment in an urban setting and live in rental or condo construction along transit lines.
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