Thomas Hardy, 1887yesterday I got around to watching the documentary, the end of suburbia: oil depletion and the collapse of the american dream. my sister-in-law p recommended this flick and fortunately the cleveland public library has it available - have I told you how much I love public libraries!
the flick is quite good. however, it was 'singing to the choir' - I've been singing this song for a looooong time! that being said, it the film was still worth viewing and I don't hesitate recommending it. the basic message is the suburban ideal of the 'american dream' is over. the film explores some of the forces which fueled the suburbanization of america. one analyst suggests the suburbanization of america has been the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. for the suburbanization of america has only been possible through (over-)consuming fossil fuels!
the film is filled with great 'one-liners' and insights and connections. in talking about suburban housing developments one fellow notes that housing developments are often named after the very thing that they have destroyed (think - quail run, fox meadows, oak glen). regarding the u.s. rail system the comment is made that "in the u.s. we have a railroad system the bulgarians would be ashamed of." (I don't think it's cool to slam the bulgarians, but lack of pc-ness aside, the quote is quite funny and I got the message) the same guy who made the crack about the railroad system also stated that we are stuck up a cul-de-sac in a cement SUV without a fill-up.
the film has it's weakness - for instance it doesn't adequately explore the issues of race. particularly how in the early days of suburbanization, the process was essentially a new form of 'jim crow' segregation (cf thomas j. sugrue's works). I was also a bit taken aback that all of the 'talking heads' in the film where middle-age white men - I can come up with plenty of academics and writers who don't share this particular demographic. but criticisms aside, it's a film worth watching.
the film offers hope at the end by bringing the discussion to how we can buffer the pain a bit and improve the situation if we embrace an authentic sense of community living and sustainability. the ideas of the new urbanism movement offer one such approach. people need to become neighbors again and that we really need to learn to live locally. more support for the ol' bumper sticker wisdom of "think globally, act locally"