Sunday, April 05, 2009

Suburban Malaise

I've been teaching Bill McKibben's Deep Economy in my ethics class all year and have been collecting videos to go along with our discussions. My students love McKibben's chapter on eating local foods. To most of them, it's completely novel to think about where their food comes from. And they love to eat. So of course it's exciting that they can eat a meal and at the same time have it be an intellectual exercise.

But they get very defensive when it comes to talking about suburbs and the community (or lack of it) that is typical of American neighborhoods. For those that have grown up in suburbs (which is most of them), they know no other world. In fact, I not uncommonly hear that Rochester is a dangerous city and that their parents have counseled them never to go downtown and certainly never to go downtown alone. (I should mention that other than the public housing that is downtown, there is also the highly respectable Eastman School of Music, a lively bar scene, and a 5-screen independent cinema which specializes in foreign films.) What I would like to do is take them on a field trip.

Barring that, I'll take the confrontational approach and show this video of James Howard Kunstler pontificating on why suburbs are "not worth caring about" and on big box stores, that "when we have enough of them, we're going to have a nation that's not worth defending." Nothing like a radical to put a moderate position into perspective. Is the language too strong? I think anything is fair game these days.


Khadimir said...

Rochester is a dangerous city? What? Yes, there are a few hotspots, but....

As a person who grew up in many locales (country, small town, large city, metropolis, foreign, domestic, southern, northern, etc.), I have always been puzzled by those who grew up in only one or two. While I am always amazed at their rootedness that I lack, I am likewise amazed at most people's disinclination or fear to stray far from it. (My current locale on the border of the Midwest has taught me this like never before.)

lucazoid said...

i appreciate your thoughts here.

we do a local bus and bike tour in Redfern - part of downtown sydney (australia) which is usually regarded as a dangerous no-go zone.

it gives folks a 'foot in the door' - an experiential encounter which is quite confronting, but helps us realise our misconceptions are based on hearsay and media beatups rather than actual experiences.


Evelyn Brister said...

Khadimir, I guess our homocide rate is high enough to rate us as dangerous, according to the FBI. Although too many of those homicides are of innocent bystanders--people in the wrong place at the wrong time--they are localized to specific areas and fueled by the drug market.

Lucazoid, thanks for the link! A good project, and of course I appreciate the reference to Dewey.

delmar said...

well, thanx mucho for posting this TED video by Kunstler, & btw, I don't think his harsh language is any problem;-)
As a previous comment mentioned, I've also lived the gamut of locales--from severely sad/dangerous inner city neighborhoods in places like Oakland & SF, to small
suburban country towns in the deep South..
and my sense is that Kunstler couldn't have put it ANY better--
he delivers it like a prophet who's studied Jon Stewart a bit.

What's hopeful, tho I don't enjoy bringing this up--is that our mainstream Real estate & commercial property markets will perhaps HELP us to wake-up those "SLEEPWALKING" folks that he refers-to.

Hopefully, this topic will be integrated into the overall discourse of ecology, economy, Fair-trade and/or
similar topics that have finally risen above the short-sighted hubris of our web-post-post-modern 'culture.'

Whew, i'll stop obsessing now;
thanx again for putting Kunstler's piece on ur blog..
--OH btw--it's great to see that we've got folks who care about these issues here at RIT;-)

Anonymous said...

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

Industrial Society is destroying necessary things [Animals, Trees, Air, Water and Land] for making unnecessary things [consumer goods].

"Growth Rate" - "Economy Rate" - "GDP"

These are figures of "Ecocide".
These are figures of "crimes against Nature".
These are figures of "destruction of Ecosystems".
These are figures of "Insanity, Abnormality and Criminality".

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature [Animals, Trees, Air, Water and Land].

Destroy the system that has killed all ecosystems.

Chief Seattle of the Indian Tribe had warned the destroyers of ecosystems way back in 1854 :

Only after the last tree has been cut down,
Only after the last river has been poisoned,
Only after the last fish has been caught,
Only then will you realize that you cannot eat money.

To read the complete article please follow any of these links.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

Delhi, India

admin said...

each people have bad experience in local but its not in common. its depend to us, when we come with peace and great attitude there is no problem with local

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