Monday, August 07, 2006

Consumption Junction, What's Your Function?

One of the more disturbing observations I made during our recent vacation is the plethora of real-estate development happening in the Midwest. Everywhere we went, Des Moines, Davenport, Chicago... the urban/suburban sprawl was never ending. Just how much more open space do we need to fill with strip malls and mega-shopping centers? These sterile, homogenous constructions of plastic and concrete are tangible evidence of the American need to consume. Despite the fact that most Americans live paycheck to paycheck and carry an alarming amount of unsecured debt, these malls are still full of plump consumers, ready to mortgage their futures (or their children's futures) for another new pair of sneakers. Someday soon, instead of the charming expanse of cornfields that once was the state of Iowa, we will just have one big suburban mall field. We can call it: I-owe-ya. Is this the "Field of Dreams" we really want?

Today I am home in Brooklyn, enjoying the beautiful trees outside the window of my brownstone building while I type. This street and neighborhood mix old world charm and city grit to create a very welcoming environment, one that David and I fell in love with almost instantly. But the Development Demons are at work here, too. They are planning to build a monstrosity called The Atlantic Yards, that will include residential towers, office buildings and a basketball arena. (for more info: There is much local opposition to this project but, despite the protest flyers and rallies, it is not likely that anything will stop the steamroller of greed that is what we now know as The American Way.

The bottom line is... We no longer produce anything. We only consume. I don't know about you, but I'm thinking it might be time to start learning how to speak Chinese.


Blogger NYCbeauty said...

yeah...I lived in the midwest for 6 years and recently went back for the first time. The development there appalled me. I, too, live in Brooklyn and I am sickened by the Atlantic Yards. It will be like a mile down the road.....argh!

4:02 PM  
Blogger Maritza said...

Why is there such urban sprawl all over the US? Has our population grown that much that all these developments are being built? Where do these people come from?

As for the Brooklyn Yards, it was just a matter of time. Next is Long Island City.

I wonder what has kept gentrification out of my hood. I'm right outside the Lincoln Tunnel, it's still cheap here. Do I need to hang a Starbucks sign on my house and trick people into coming over? I want to sell my house for a million bucks and move to Vermont, or maybe Brooklyn.

9:06 PM  
Blogger Full Frontal Honesty said...

Haha... I'll take an iced chai tea latte... nonfat, please.

12:01 PM  

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