Slumburbia, Coming to a City Near You Slumburbia, Coming to a City Near You
Cities

Slumburbia, Coming to a City Near You

by Siobhan O'Connor

February 14, 2010
There's a depressing new story about the sorry state of suburbs all the time-not because writers are parroting each other, but because it's become one of the important stories of our time. What the hell do we do with these depopulating "cities of the future"? How can we fix the suburbia experiment which has gone so horribly? Should we try to retrofit suburbs, or let them crumble, focusing our energies instead on coming up with better ways to build healthy communities (both in urban and rural settings) without all the waste?

Last month, GOOD contributor Allison Arieff wrote a great piece for The New York Times about this, and today there's a nice one by Timothy Egan. He writes:

Take a pulse: How can a community possibly be healthy when one in eight houses are in some stage of foreclosure? How can a town attract new people when the crime rate has spiked well above the national average? How can a family dream, or even save, when unemployment hovers around 16 percent? ...

Yes, huge developments are empty... But through it all, the country churns and expands, unlike most other Western democracies. That great American natural resource - tomorrow - will have to save the suburban slums.

Like I said: depressing. As we've been putting together out Neighborhoods issue, it's something we've been thinking about a lot. What's your take? Should we revive suburbs, or let them rot?

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Slumburbia, Coming to a City Near You