This is from Judith Melvin
The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome: Turning Around the Unsustainable American Dream (Bloomberg) A very thoughtful book on the market conditions and future – Richard M. Harrison – Minneapolis, MN
Normally I would not have read this book, as the title suggests yet another anti-sprawl, anti-growth book, but its actually anti-bad-development and building book – urban or suburban. As an international planner of neighborhoods, I’ve heard about the death of the suburbs now for 3 decades. Other than the financial ills clearly explained in Johns book, the suburbs will continue to grow, not at the unrealistic pace of the past, but at a more sensible pace. The name cul-de-sac syndrome applies less to a physical cul-de-sac, but more as a metaphor for the mindless way we have built this country for over a half a century. The book gives a clear understanding of the financial systems that caused the bust, but mimics what we (as planners who designs new developments) have been preaching – that the future lies in a new way to develop and build. New planning methods significantly reduce both carbon footprint and construction costs of land development. New building methods can reduce the carbon footprint, but also significantly increase the home costs, making efficient and responsible housing a luxury that only the elite can possess. John delves into this issue very clearly and visions a new future. For the past decade we have promoted efficient housing for the masses, homes that the restaurant worker married to a teacher can afford. Smaller homes that when properly designed can feel very comfortable serving the families desire for space. Housing needed to change, but homes were selling so fast, builders seemed to not care – build one, move on to the next. Johns message is that we need to change to more responsible construction. The book is not so much anti-growth like other books, but responsible growth. While we may not agree on 100% of the issues, nobody in the industry as a magic wand that solves all issues. That said, the Cul-de-sac Syndrome sets a great foundation on where to start. We cannot make a new future unless we clearly understand the mistakes of the past.
Rick Harrison, Author of Prefurbia – Reinventing the suburbs from disdainable to sustainable. Inventor of Coving, BayHomes, Connective Neighborhood Design, Neighborhood Marketplace, and many other new planning methods, and winner of Professional Builders Achievement of the Year Award. Rick lives in a NAHB Green Certified Gold, and MNGreenstar certified home in Minneapolis.
: An incisive look at the consequences of today’s costly and damaging suburban lifestyle, this new book exposes the economic, cultural, environmental, and health problems underlying life in suburbia. John Wasik provides powerful insights into how the U.S. suburban lifestyle became unsustainable and what can be done to salvage it. Wasik’s observations are firmly grounded in exclusive on-the-ground research, interviews with thought leaders, and the latest studies and statistics. He exposes the untold truths about home ownership: green isn’t always so green, life isn’t cheaper after accounting for gas, water, and taxes, and modern suburban living isn’t so idyllic considering the toll it takes on our health. Wasik’s trenchant analysis adds a new dimension to an important topic, with exclusive research and analysis that debunks the many myths of suburban living, while exploring innovative solutions being developed in cities and suburbs across the country.