Marohn: “Sprawl Is Not the Problem.”

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Words to think by.

Sprawl Is Not the Problem, by Charles Marohn (Strong Towns)

… Strong Towns is not an anti-sprawl organization because sprawl is not the problem.

We identify the problem as the Suburban Experiment, which we contrast with the Traditional Development Pattern. Both of these we have defined:

Suburban Experiment: The approach to growth and development that has become dominant in North America during the 20th Century. There are two distinguishing characteristics of this approach that differentiate it from the Traditional Development Pattern. They are: (1) New growth happens at a large scale and (2) Construction is done to a finished state; there is no further growth anticipated after the initial construction.

Traditional Development Pattern: The approach to growth and development that humans used for thousands of years across different cultures, continents and latitudes. There are two distinguishing characteristics of this pattern that differentiate it from the Suburban Experiment. They are: (1) Growth happens incrementally over time and (2) All neighborhoods are on a continuum of improvement.

Here’s the coda:

If you insist, consider sprawl a symptom of the Suburban Experiment. It is only one symptom, of many, and it can’t be dealt with without addressing the underlying disease. And to circle back to my prior post on smart growth: we won’t fix the dysfunctional byproduct of centralized, collective action with more centralized, collective action. Our cities need organic, incremental, citizen-led responses to our current set of problems.

Citizen-led?

Uh oh.

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