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Thread: People and their mindsets about the city?

  1. #1

    People and their mindsets about the city?

    I have yet another questioni about planning, how do planners and developers possibly plan to reverse the mentality of the isolationist people living in the suburbs? In my city, it seems a lot of people in the suburbs hate the city except certain areas that have been tourist attractions. They also seem to be prejudice/racist, and are very attached to their cars.

    Is there a way to change the suburbanite mentality so these people will stop their racism, and will put their false assumptions about the inner city behind them and move in to the city?

    Also, is there a way to change the mindset of the inner city people so they won't be so prejudice and hateful of the suburbanites?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian AubieTurtle's avatar
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    The suburbs as they have existed over the past few decades were a temporary thing. You can't change the minds of those who lived in it but the whole house of cards is going to collapse on them to where they see that there is nothing special about them or the artificial little world they created around themselves, it was all just a temporary illusion.

    More and more minorities and poor (which are increasingly not one in the same) are moving into the suburbs. As matter of fact, people living in poverty in the suburbs now outnumbers those living in the inner city. On a percentage basis there is still more intown but in absolute terms, the suburbs have more. So you can see that this is a trend and unlikely to be reversed. Throw in increasing transportation costs and declining quality of life, both of which will cause the suburbs to be less attractive, you should see declining property values and average incomes.

    There isn't all that much planners can do about any of this. Sure, planners can try to rehabilitate the physical structure of the suburbs to make up for the mistakes of the past but they're going to encounter the same resistance that they always have because suburbanites as a whole are going to see the declines in their areas and for a long time blame it on the influence of the city spreading into their area instead of anything they did. So the last thing they're going to want to agree to is anything that makes the suburbs more like the "evil" city.

    The current generation of suburban dwellers as a whole (and there are and will be exceptions) are not going to change their minds. It will be the next generation, the children of the suburbs who get to their late teens and into their twenties and decide to see what life is like elsewhere for themselves instead of depending on the stories from mom and dad about the boogie man in the city. The view of the city in the 70s and 80s has been replaced in the minds of the younger generation with the hip fun place that the characters on Friends and Seinfeld inhabited. And because cities (with some exceptions) are on the upswing, those who decide to give urban living a try for themselves are going to find that city life is much more like the movie "You've Got Mail" than "The Warriors".

    I say that planner should try to rebuild the central city as much as possible since it is the area most receptive to it and hopefully if it is done right, the city can be a solid foundation upon which close in suburbs can rehabilitate themselves and have it spread. But as far as working from the outside-inwards, they'd have quite the challenge making it work that way and find it nearly impossible to change the minds of those whose world view is set in stone in their heads.
    As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. - H.L. Mencken

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Flying Monkeys's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    how do planners and developers possibly plan to reverse the mentality of the isolationist people living in the suburbs?
    Number one, you may have to look at your own mindset first. It appears to reinforce the 'us vs them' mentality with phrases such as 'isolationist people'. There is so much more behind this issue that 'those peple in the suburbs' and 'those pepole in the city' generlizations. If you want to understand the forces at play, you have about a years worth of reading and reasearch to do.


    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    They also seem to be prejudice/racist, and are very attached to their cars.

    Is there a way to change the suburbanite mentality so these people will stop their racism, and will put their false assumptions about the inner city behind them and move in to the city?
    Once again, over generalization is counter productive. And as far as false assumtions, each inner city is different. Some are wonderful enclaves that encourage the spirt and enhance ones life. There are some that are downright dangerous. Each inner city, just like the suburbs, have their own set of problems and positives. Each should be approached differently. One downtown block can be vastley different than the one next to it.

    And as for racism... this problem is older than culture. Is it fair to belive than planning, no matter how powerful some think it is, will solve a problem as deep as this one?
    What’s in a name? – Your reputation….:)

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Reductionist's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by AubieTurtle View post
    There isn't all that much planners can do about any of this. Sure, planners can try to rehabilitate the physical structure of the suburbs to make up for the mistakes of the past but they're going to encounter the same resistance that they always have because suburbanites as a whole are going to see the declines in their areas and for a long time blame it on the influence of the city spreading into their area instead of anything they did. So the last thing they're going to want to agree to is anything that makes the suburbs more like the "evil" city.
    This whole discussion reminds me of Jane Jacobs' theory of generational change. Which is to that change doesn't come from reshaping individual ideas or perceptions, as people are largely fixed in their biases and preferences by the age of 30. Simply put change happens because people die and their ideas, both good and bad, go with them. This is obviously a double aged sword, but it implies that the status quo is a temporary state and how futile it is to project trends indefintely into the future.
    "I believe in pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. I believe it is possible. I saw this guy do it once in Cirque du Soleil. It was magical!" -Stephen Colbert

  5. #5
    I am a big fan of Jane Jacobs by the way...

    Also, I live in a rural area/suburb, and I know many people in my area and others, and they all have the exact same attitude about the inner city, and many are racist or prejudice against blacks.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    I am a big fan of Jane Jacobs by the way...

    Also, I live in a rural area/suburb, and I know many people in my area and others, and they all have the exact same attitude about the inner city, and many are racist or prejudice against blacks.
    Jane Jacobs mentions several great ideas and noted several reasons for concern. However the connectivity of the reasons why are questionable, and objectionable for several cities other than NYC. I would encourage reading a lot more books from a wide range of authors before you set your allegiance to one paradigm.

    I notice that your location line says that your from the mid west and as a fellow Midwesterner, I understand how you can get some of these perceptions. I live in a large historic district within walking distance of downtown in a fairly large city (250,000) but it has a lot of sprawl around it. I however drive an hour to work every day to a suburban community (85,000) in a completely different MSA, and see things from their point of view as well.

    Around here at least, the cities have seen the beginning of a resurgence in interest. While the surrounding areas have continued to grow, so has the population within the urban core. What was once vacant industrial buildings are now restaurants, condos, apartments and offices.

    The biggest way to change the perception about Sprawl is to show people that older dense urban cores are cool again. Media has also helped this, shows such as Cheers, Frasier, Sex and the City, Six Degrees of Separation, Friends, and many more have show that living in a city is not only possible, but it is where people should be.

    Seriously the best thing that you can do to stop sprawl is to move into a dense urban core and share your world with as many people as you possibly can. Forum boards, post cards, photos, and inviting suburban friends to events, are all far more successful than negative methods.

    Sprawl is not bad, but we as a society have not been successful yet in showing that Urban Cores are good.

    Best of luck in your ventures.
    Trusting a DC politician with your money is like trusting a hungry dog with a raw steak.

  7. #7
    I live in Kansas City, and have commuted to the city itself for a job.

    I don't know how many other cities have to deal with suburban powerhouses, but Kansas City definitely does. Also, it seems our suburbs have hurt our inner city because of their sprawl.

    Sprawl hurts the city in many ways... The more they sprawl out, the more people commute to the city, the more personal transportation is crammed on the streets and highways. Those personal cars thus have to be parked in the city, and thus dead, boring parking garages are built, and sometimes parking lots are built, causing the destruction of many buildings once in use, and buildings that are still usable. With the increasing traffic, the highways would (according to the federal government and state government) have to be expanded, and more bridges would be required across the river. The highways would have to be widened, either causing more destruction, or dividing neighborhoods even further. With the increase of vehicles, also the pollution increases in the city. Also with more vehicles, there is a lot more competition for road space between trucks, cars, pedestrians crossing roads, buses, etc...
    If the city does what they should, and converts the highways to slower boulevards, that aren't car friendly, then the commuters will complain and would leave the city, or find jobs elsewhere. Businesses in Downtown will then move out to the suburbs because commuters have to spend even more time in traffic.

    Those factors, and many others are how sprawl directly hurts the city.

  8. #8
    Show them a city worth living in, and they will change their mindset.

    But first you have to build that city, and the people will stop you from doing that.

    It's a bit of a chicken and egg problem.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Tobinn's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    I have yet another questioni about planning, how do planners and developers possibly plan to reverse the mentality of the isolationist people living in the suburbs? In my city, it seems a lot of people in the suburbs hate the city except certain areas that have been tourist attractions. They also seem to be prejudice/racist, and are very attached to their cars.

    Is there a way to change the suburbanite mentality so these people will stop their racism, and will put their false assumptions about the inner city behind them and move in to the city?

    Also, is there a way to change the mindset of the inner city people so they won't be so prejudice and hateful of the suburbanites?
    You seem to assume that all suburbanites are the same and all urbanites are the same and then in the same breathe complain about racism.

    The first thing one needs to do it listen...carefully. There’s two types of people in the world; those who start out thinking they know everything and the older they get the more they are sure they do and those who start out thinking they know everything and the older they get the less sure they are about that. Of course the former never know any more than they did and the latter know more than they ever did.

    It may be counterproductive to start any conversation by telling the other party how wrong they are and how bad they are. What you do is immediately put them on the defensive. Remember, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar although you should always have a bottle of good vinegar on hand because it does taste good on French fries.

    With that all said, let's assume that all suburbanites are not racist and all urbanites are not prejudice. Next, I suggest that erasing racism is not a job that the urban planner can and even should do.

    On another point you bring up; The reason that Americans are so attached to their cars is because the have to be. Check out the how the big three, oil, rubber and auto, systematically bought up and dismantled the mass transit system in the first half of the last century. I found an interesting article in, of all places, Reform Judaism Magazine. It is an interview with Edwin Black who wrote “Internal Combustion: How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World to Oil and Derailed the Alternatives”. I haven’t read it yet but I plan to as soon as I finish “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain. I hope I’m not breaking any rules by posting the link to the article: http://reformjudaismmag.org/Articles/index.cfm?id=1166.

    The suburban-urban dichotomy, I believe, is a legacy of corruption, graft, cronyism and shortsidedness.

  10. #10
    Well I'll tell you one thing, i'm very close to leaving this website, because it's clear it encourages city-hating, suburban-loving, anti-density, pro-sprawl, anti-Jane Jacobs, anti-Authentic Urbanism, anti-smart growth, libertarian fools. I cannot be a part of ANYTHING that encourages any of those things. It's starting to become clear to me, city planning and architecture is still seriously screwed up, I hope none of these horrible ideas escape to the rest of the world and ruin it too. I'm going to start adding people to my ignore list if they are for the things I'm against.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    Calm down Heartland. Speaking as a planner and a surburban dweller, when we bought our house (which is our first house, by the way) we were looking for a newer home, low maintanence, in a good school district and in an area where we expected it to appreciate and be a sound investment even if we didn't make any big improvements. And the big thing, it had to be affordable. Yes, we have to drive to take our daughter to a park, and we each have a 30 min. commute to work. But it works for us for the time being.

    I think it would be fun to live in the heart of a vibrant city, even with a small child. But at this point in our lives it just isn't possible financially, in a city that would be desirable to us anyway (low crime, lots of entertainment/dining, good schools, etc). And the more gentrification and inner city improvements (to attract people back) = the more out of our price range it would become, especially for people wanting to own their home.

    I think most of the people on here, including myself, are anti-sprawl. But, we are also experienced planners, being realistic, and dealing with elected officials. IMO, planning is about facilitating the desires of the taxpayers and trying to educate them along the way, while also looking at the bottom line financially.

    And the whole point of these forums is to share ideas and learn things... not to bash what other people have to say and only have discussions with people who agree with you.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    Well I'll tell you one thing, i'm very close to leaving this website, because it's clear it encourages city-hating, suburban-loving, anti-density, pro-sprawl, anti-Jane Jacobs, anti-Authentic Urbanism, anti-smart growth, libertarian fools. I cannot be a part of ANYTHING that encourages any of those things. It's starting to become clear to me, city planning and architecture is still seriously screwed up, I hope none of these horrible ideas escape to the rest of the world and ruin it too. I'm going to start adding people to my ignore list if they are for the things I'm against.
    Hahahah. And here I was always getting annoyed for exactly the opposite reason


    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    I have yet another questioni about planning, how do planners and developers possibly plan to reverse the mentality of the isolationist people living in the suburbs? In my city, it seems a lot of people in the suburbs hate the city except certain areas that have been tourist attractions. They also seem to be prejudice/racist, and are very attached to their cars.

    ...

    Also, I live in a rural area/suburb
    I'm sure your jackboot in their a$$ is going to convince many, many people onto the true path during the course of your career. I wish you luck perpetuating the worst planner stereotypes. Hopefully you will get some 24/7/365 city experience soon.

    Or, congrats on a fantastic troll thread(s).

  13. #13
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by cch View post
    . . . I think most of the people on here, including myself, are anti-sprawl. But, we are also experienced planners, being realistic, and dealing with elected officials. IMO, planning is about facilitating the desires of the taxpayers and trying to educate them along the way, while also looking at the bottom line financially.

    And the whole point of these forums is to share ideas and learn things... not to bash what other people have to say and only have discussions with people who agree with you.
    Absolutely on point. Thank you, since you said it better than I could have.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  14. #14
    What can I learn from people whose ideas would destroy cities? THe only thing I want to ever do is stop these people from ever being considered for a significant job in planning. It isn't that they are purposely wanting to destroy cities (well, some of them), but they are so ignorant that they don't realize their "theories" are bunk and would destroy everything.

    And yes I do know about mindsets at least suburban ones, i've lived in the suburbs for my entire life, and I've not only heard them, you see them on the news. People from horrible areas like Overland Park were literally shocked and dumbfounded when a single fire broke out in their Downtown, one person even said that "this sort of thing isn't supposed to happen here"... They are shocked at crime, and cannot believe tornados can rip through their town. People were also shocked at a lake that formed in a highway after heavy rain/snow, like it could never happen there. The literal mentality in areas like Johnson County and Overland Park is that natural occurances, crime and other things are not allowed to occur in those places.

    That is one bad thing about planning is that you are doing what someone WANTS and not what they really need. Unfortunately that is what the world is about today, but fortunately, some cities are putting in regulations to make sure things aren't screwed up and needs are provided/required before any wants are met.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    A significant number of the planners who post at Cyburbia are small town and rural planners. We have different (non-urban) land use concerns related to our jobs. I live in a city but I work for a largely rural county.

    What happens in the big cities is no concern of mine, professionally.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    Comrade, the bad part is all this stuff is getting archived and will reappear when you least like to to. At least my old embarrasing youthful proclamations can only be found on a few photos and rapidly-deteriorating videotape.

    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    That is one bad thing about planning is that you are doing what someone WANTS and not what they really need.
    Yeah, pity that whole individuality, pursuit of happiness liberal claptrap. You decry racists and suburbanites but your attitudes are the same. It is a very dangerous path to try to tell someone to do something and seeking the power to do so, rather than convincing them.

  17. #17
    First, I don't think it's fair to say that the "suburban mentality" is isolationism, racism, or stupidity. I live in Manhattan, but was raised in the 'burbs.

    There are lots of reasons why people choose suburbs over cities. People value open space, want to be near good schools, like the convenience (or perceived convenience) of auto-centric suburbs, and want to be in a low-crime community. Another HUGE consideration is cost. In the city, taxes are higher, housing costs are higher, and prices at nearby stores are higher. Some people want to avoid noise, pollution, and crowds. Of course, big city government is usually big, inefficient, and sometimes corrupt. These are all legitimate disadvantages of cities.

    So... if you want people to come to the city, you've got to remedy these problems. It's not easy, and much of it is probably outside what a single planner could do. You need to reduce the perception of your city as crime-ridden, noisy, crowded, and polluted. You need to have parks and other open space available. You need to have convenient, affordable retail. You need to sell people on the convenience of living near their jobs and/or using clean, efficient mass transit.

    I agree with what others have said: stereotypical views and a confrontational attitude won't really help you much. You first need to acknowledge and accept that people have legitimate reasons to go to the suburbs. Then you need to figure out ways to either accentuate the corresponding advantages of the cities, or improve the cities so that these advantages no longer exist.

  18. #18
    Hmm, well I see isolationism and racism all over the suburbs.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    Hmm, well I see isolationism and racism all over the suburbs.
    You haven't visited my suburban subdivision.
    Get real.

    Footnote: I pity you and your view of the world.

  20. #20
    I think you guys are forgetting that I've lived in the suburbs my whole life. A lot of people I talk to either are prejudice against blacks, or are racist against them. But if blacks move near them, they are either quiet, or accept them, while still being prejudice against those living in the inner city.

    Also, while isolationism isn't so much of a mentality, it's greatly encouraged by sprawl.

    What I said about Overland Park is actually 100% true, and everyone from KC will confirm it, typically the majority of the metropolitan area hates Overland Park and Johnson County because of their mentality and uncooperation with the rest of the metro.

    However what I think we all could agree on is that sprawl is wrong and is most of the modern suburban areas. (however not the first suburbs before the 1950s)

    It all comes down to just ignorance by those in the suburbs. They just don't care about the city and only know as much as what they see on the news and read in the paper. (which is negative about 80-90% of the time) Also it has to do with how most cities were after 1950, and many still are. Eventually however, things will improve and suburbanites will move back to the city.

    And yes, I recognize many on here are rural or suburban planners, but hopefully they are doing the right things and going for urban settings rather than post-50s suburban sprawl settings.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    Hmm, well I see isolationism and racism all over the suburbs.
    You will see it all over the City as well. What you see depends upon where you stand. You need to stand in more places and observe what you see.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  22. #22
    True Detroit, but I am talking about suburbs right now. I know that it's in the city as well. However the goal isn't to move the ppl in the city out, it's to move the ppl in the suburbs into the city. The people in the city wouldn't have much of a choice if they had a lot of people moving in, unless they move out, but then that could be greatly discouraged in various ways.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    A City and its suburbs are part of the same social ecology and share the same geography.
    Lines on a map are all that separates them.
    I'm willing to bet that there are parts of KC proper that were considered the suburbs 60 years ago.
    Divisiveness leads to nothing but folks digging their heels in deeper to stand their ground.
    You will not accomplish your goals of a revitalized KC if you go around saying that the suburbs all suck. You need to either convince new people to move to KC, and who wants to live next to suburbs that suck, OR you need to convice those in the suburbs to move more into the City proper. This will not happen if you say "YOU SUCK!"
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    I think you guys are forgetting that I've lived in the suburbs my whole life.
    Which is why I can't be the only one who is wondering what exactly is your experience with cities, and how you came to your special mindset about them. Experience with megalopoli like Mexico City, Mumbai, Beijing, etc will be given more weight, as that is what I for one think of when you speak of forcing people into cities. I am but an ignorant and isolationist suburbanite and have only visited those places, not long enough to get decent opinions, so your elucidation is most welcome.

  25. #25
    RTG, it's called:

    Jane Jacobs
    Kevin Lynch
    Barcelona, Copenhagen, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Vancouver, Portland, Zurich, Rome, Strasbourg, Paris, London, Athens, Curitiba
    Smart Growth
    Authentic Urbanism
    New Urbanism
    Mass Transit and Pedestrian Oriented Streets/Cities, not Personal Automobile
    Anti-Sprawl
    Communitarianism

    Supported by planning and development of cities thousands of years before the 1950s. "Death and Life of Great American Cities", "The Image Of the City", design of European and dense American cities.
    http://www.ceds.org/
    http://www.newurbannews.com/
    http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/
    http://smartgrowthplanning.org/
    http://www.smartgrowth.org/
    http://www.sprawlcity.org/
    http://www.toronto.ca/planning/pdf/t...ug17_final.pdf

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