Monday, January 29, 2007

The geography of nowhere

James Kunstler has a trenchant post today. It starts out like this:
Martha Stewart was not an accident of history. She came along in the late 20th century as a kind of spirit guide to a society whose bad choices and misinvestments had led to the wholesale destruction of any place in America that people called home. And by this I mean the towns, neighborhoods, and city districts of our land, not just the individual dwellings.

By the 1980s, America had been converted, with monstrous efficiency, into what I have called a geography of nowhere, a panorama of identical highway strips, malls, big box warehouses, fried food out-parcels, and free parking wastelands -- all serving the endless new subdivision pods of single family houses. The ultimate result was a landscape full of places no longer worth caring about.

The program was carried out ruthlessly by big corporations and their hand-maidens, the road-builders, the house-builders, and the brotherhood of traffic engineers, but it was fully supported by the public at large and their elected local officials on the planning and zoning boards. It was both an "emergent" economic ecology -- a systemic response to decades of cheap oil and favorable geopolitics -- and a consciously mapped-out attempt to create a kind of Utopia, in this case a suburban Utopia of Happy Motoring. Whatever it was, nothing like it had ever been seen before.
Boys and girls, those of you who live in Edina anyway, does that sound like any place you know?

The historic neighborhoods of Edina--not just the Country Club, but South Harriet Park and perhaps other neighborhoods as well, are under an assault that the city's leadership is apparently indifferent to doing anything about.

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