Sunday, April 10, 2005

Home from Nowhere

Where we choose to live (region, neighbourhood, type of housing) is a huge part of the lifestyle equation. I've been doing a lot of thinking along those lines, but never seem to post about it.

Home from Nowhere by James Howard Kunstler rocked my world in the last few weeks. Read this article to get a sense of his vision for towns and cities that would work infinitely better than the suburban sprawl currently dominating the landscape. He's aligned with the New Urbanism movement, which is basically aiming to create beautiful urban places where people can live, shop and work without needing cars. I was introduced to some of these ideas by reading The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and it just makes so much sense, both for quality of life and long-term sustainability.

Kunstler also recently wrote about what the future might look like when the price of oil becomes unaffordable across entire economies. It's classic doomsday stuff, but much of the crystal-ball gazing has a ring of truth to me. I wonder how it will affect our aspirations and sense of what is important in life. His take:
"The circumstances of the Long Emergency will require us to downscale and re-scale virtually everything we do and how we do it, from the kind of communities we physically inhabit to the way we grow our food to the way we work and trade the products of our work. Our lives will become profoundly and intensely local. Daily life will be far less about mobility and much more about staying where you are. Anything organized on the large scale, whether it is government or a corporate business enterprise such as Wal-Mart, will wither as the cheap energy props that support bigness fall away. The turbulence of the Long Emergency will produce a lot of economic losers, and many of these will be members of an angry and aggrieved former middle class."

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