As I blazed through some anti-Wal Mart literature, as well as some APA residential architecture books over the log weekend, I realized something:
We (A lot of folks here, but a small -percentage of Americans) feel that there may be substantial problems with the way things are designed, developed, utilized, and the overall meanings/impacts of modern-day life here in the Good Ole USA. But does the rest of the country care about these things, or are they concerned with others thing.
-People know about the pricing, labor and business practices that large-scale retail discounters (Wal-Mart in particular) utilize in order to ensure their botton lines. We have also had many protest the construction of new Wal-Marts and express great interest in have them locate elsewhere.
But why, when the construction of a new Wal-Mart is protested by the citizens and ultimately put to a vote (as it did in the town I went to college in) do people flock to these places when they get approved? I mean do people ONLY look at their pocketbooks, or do they really know the true story of the Walton lagacy?
I remember in college discussing this with a guy I lived with. Even after explaining some of the bad things about Wal-Mart, I still heard "Well, the new (insert pop culture ribbish) DVD is so cheap there, as well as their groceries. It may only be a couple cents cheaper than the supermarket, but you can get so much at Wal Mart"
Seems to me, that America may be too distracted, too willing to follow a corporate front, or just willing to look the other way to save 4 cents on a can of tuna.
-What about architecture and sprawl? Always a hot topic on the Throbbing Brain, it seems that we, as planners, are always fighting for things like: A non-garage dominated street scape, New Urbanist Development, higher density housing, and pedesrian scale circulation within shopping centers, etc.
In my small experience as a planner, I have seen this situation: When the public is presented with something new regarding development, they seem to be leary at first and ultimately the plan gets changed (i.e. I had a housing development with alley loaded detached single family. This was immediatly rejected at neighborhood meetings, as well as public hearings. The result: the same single family street-load housing that we see all over the region). But if something new is built without public involvement, it tends to be accepted more and sometimes folks get excited about it.
Also, seems that the overall feel of a "snout" home dominated street scape is negative to most people. I have heard people say that these neighborhoods "have no character" or "something is out of place here" or "there is nothing neighborly about this street". YET, many people buying new housing choose to have the snout garage. I have had homebuilders say that those models are preferred by their customers and I am hurting their bottom line by requiring something else.
I guess I ahve ranted long enough, but what are your thoughts? Does anyone agree or disagree? Does anyone have any other examples that we could add to the "These Things" category above?
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