Dom Nozzi in this blog post succinctly describes what the United States has done to our cities and towns over the last 60 years. His is a warning to developing nations.
“The over-emphasis on providing for cars has destroyed the severely hampered the financial condition of households, as well as the finances of local, state and federal governments. This over-emphasis has also significantly increased the number of injuries and deaths in the US, has significantly degraded quality of life and civic pride, has substantially harmed the natural environment, has drained the lifeblood out of most American town centers (downtowns), has taken away travel independence for seniors, children and others without the ability to drive a car, has wiped out smaller and locally-owned businesses in the face of emerging Big Box retailers, has promoted unsustainable suburban sprawl, has resulted in countless wildlife deaths, and has substantially contributed to the US becoming a nation of loners – a nation where we barely even know our neighbors, and much more rarely bump into friends and family.”
Financial ruin of local state and federal governments? Check.
Drained the lifeblood out of most American town centers? Check.
Unsustainable suburban sprawl? Check.
A nation of people isolated from each other? Check.
The questions is this: Can the movement we are seeing toward urbanism, walkable neighborhoods, density, and alternate transportation reverse this trend, or is it too late? Charles Marohn of Strong Towns says we need to STOP our old ways right now. Is that even possible?
Can America make a radical shift, or will it need to be made for us?