Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Another perspective on Urban Living....

Since Jane Jacobs is the Goddess and Kunstler the God..of all that IS URBAN.....whilst googling...."self congratulatory circle jerk".......I bumbled upon this:

"Dolores Hayden, a professor of architecture and American studies at Yale and a leading historian of the American built environment's relationship to its political integument, offers in Building Suburbia an explanation of how the now-characteristic forms of that environment took shape and of why the problems they cause have proven resistant to amelioration. She writes, her preface tells us, “from the perspective of an urban landscape historian who is also an architect, wife, mother, and suburban resident.” The last term of her self-description hints at what sets this book apart from even the most worthwhile other treatments of the urban crisis: Hayden tells the stories of suburban settlers without condescension and without automatic ascription of their choice of domicile to racism or mindless conformity. She scrupulously avoids both the self-congratulatory tone that creeps into, for instance, Jane Jacobs's picture of her own idyllically bohemian Lower Manhattan neighborhood in The Death and Life of Great American Cities and the wild anger at suburban piggery that pervades James Howard Kunstler's books from The Geography of Nowhere on. For Hayden, the suburbs' growth is not a drama of moral choice but the product of political and economic forces that she sets out to delineate, armed with formidable archival knowledge of two centuries' worth of building practice and with a sensibility alert to the cultural roots and consequences of that practice."

Since Tacoma, or a small group of Tacomans and Tacowomens are all fired up about Urban Living.........I thought you might like to have this tidbit.......Here's what I find most appealing.........that Hayden documents the political and economic forces that brought about suburbs.
Cities are now bringing expensive condos using your tax dollars (a choice !) to middling, sluggish cities as a means to "save them". No it isn't moral.....it's all about money. If it was to 'save them" then truly affordable housing and educational, and recreational venues would be built downtown, rather than the gated communities for the wealthy. If suburbs were to be saved instead of just derided, then we'd be spending our tax dollars on mass transit, instead of roads and cars. Happily Washington voters just defeated a moronic Road and Transit package. Mass transit ridership has about doubled in the last 5 years in our area.
Because it is true that downtowns and compact living situations are best for a number of well-documented reasons, the fact that the poor always get shoved to the periphery of towns and then to the suburbs, as we are seeing in Puyallup, for instance, is more evidence that the packing of downtowns with the wealthy or near-wealthy......has little to do with morals, and more to do with other reasons as Hayden documents.
If the most vulnerable people where thought about at all other than how to get rid of them, then their housing would be nearest to the amenities and services they need in their daily life. It would be a revolution in city planning vogueness,if All the People were thought about and planned for and treated as if they are human beings.
I will never forget Julie Anderson stating in her campaign literature and her speeches that the ...Bums need to be moved away from legitimate business in downtown because they interfere with commerce..........
Well, "bums" are citizens of America.......Just as much as Law and Order Julie.
For the life of me, I don't know why our "leaders" voted to put the New Homeless Shelter on STW....and not up on the south/eastside near the County Hospital and several bus routes. Near Puget Sound Hospital there are groceries, a drug store, and other medical and social services in walking distance and a short bus ride away. I suspect The View from the Hill, doesn't belong to the poor, or the bums......it belongs to people that are rich. Or pretend they are.

2 comments:

Tacomania said...

Thanks for the recommendation - I'll read some Dolores Hayden now.

I live in Suburbia and have been trying out alternative means of transportation, namely riding the bus and biking. Riding the bus is a pain in the behind. I really feel for the folks that don't have any other means of transportation in this town.
With all of the talk of creating walkable, liveable cities, we need to be sure to make them walkable and liveable for EVERYONE and not just for the well off.

propriatrix said...

as much as my preachers kid bias would like to take the easy way out and go all MORAL -- I know that govmint picks winners and losers. That's what Hayden points out.....There are many others who write from her perspective....and let's not forget: Who Framed Roger Rabbit ! or Chinatown (the movie)
Keep on fighting the good fight!