Re: [carfree_cities] Re: Fear in the Streets?
- And then Rick replied while I was typing:
>Actually, blakely & Snyder, in their book, "fortress America," haveand I'll paste the quote from that page right here
>examined exactly this. There's an excerpt on my zone at:
because it's so germane:
The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself
Here's a couple of quotes from Edward J. Blakely and Mary Gail Snyder's Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States (Brookings Institution Press, 1997):
In an open city...people of different colors and incomes must negotiate their mutual fate together. In some respects, they learn to value one another more highly, and social networks are expanded. In socially isolated environments [such as gated suburbs], social distance leads to stereotyping and misunderstanding, which in turn leads to fear and even greater distance. A resident in one of our [suburban] focus groups exemplified this dynamic when she told us that she never left her downtown San Francisco office building, even for lunch, for fear of people on the streets. Her building is located on a central street of department stores and offices, populated at lunch hour mainly by businesspeople and shoppers. But because it is a public space where anyone may go, it is too uncontrolled for her comfort, too unpredictable. Unlike her gated suburb, its openness increases the vulnerability she already feels to an unacceptable level.
* * * * * * * * * * *
As one citizen told Constance Perin in her study of community and place in American life: "See, you have to understand the fundamental feeling in the suburbs is fear, let's face it. The basic emotional feeling is fear. Fear of blacks, fear of physical harm, fear of their kids being subjected to drugs, which are identified as a black probem, fear of all the urban ills. They feel [that] by moving to the suburbs they've run away from it, in fact, they haven't, in reality they haven't, but in their own mind's eye they've moved away from the problem."
----- ### -----
J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
- ... And my piece on ³burb cowards²
I think that anyone who is so frightened of their fellow humans that they
are prepared to move house to a "safer" area and "stay in their car" for
fear of urban predators and watch their children constantly to stave off the
risk of "stranger dangers", might be referred to as lacking moral fibre (LMF
I think it used to be called) and contributing to fear in the population -
for which there used, in war time, to be penalties. I am familiar with these
fears. I have long struggled with them - not for myself now - but for my
children. I recognise them and seek to control them. I haven't moved house
from the inner suburb of Handsworth in Birmingham (UK) - to the continuing
surprise of some traders and estate agents who imply in various ways a
mismatch between my apparent income and social class and my choice of
address. (Changes in urban living are fortuitously going to make our choice
of home look extraordinarily far sighted to these people in another few
years - but that's another matter - and we can all be hostages to
From: Richard Risemberg <rickrise@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2007 07:24:07 -0800
Subject: Re: [carfree_cities] Re: Fear in the Streets?
On Jan 15, 2007, at 7:01 AM, Karen Sandness wrote:
> No one talks about this fear, because, after all, we're all
> supposed to
> be anti-racist and to avoid "fomenting class warfare," but in fact,
> racism and prejudice against the lower classes have played and
> to play a major role in the formation and ongoing growth of the
> car-dependent suburb.
Actually, blakely & Snyder, in their book, "fortress America," have
examined exactly this. There's an excerpt on my zone at:
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Good on you Karen. But if you are spending a large part of your earnings to
send children to private school and to enjoy access to private space (tennis
clubs and health clubs versus public parks) and travel long distances to
salubrious suburbs, cognitive dissonance almost requires that you amplify
and distort your worst fears about the places you¹ve abandoned to justify
the money spent on escaping them. I have met people who¹ve gone to live in
foreign countries to get away from the pace of life¹ in the UK which is a
coded form of this fear of the other¹ in our midst. I do not deny that some
of the ennui of oppressive poverty (being without many material possessions
is not what I mean) can rub off on anyone living in proximity to
hopelessness and the consolations bred by such despair, but can¹t the life
of the suburbs turn out dispiriting? I do not deny that there are places
where you can leave the house key in the front door and others where that
would be unwise, and I do not deny that the species faces fearful challenges
not the least being attempts by thousands of people to get away from it
all¹ who end up up creating more of what they sought to escape.
From: Karen Sandness <ksandness@...>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2007 09:01:19 -0600
Subject: [carfree_cities] Re: What every Brit should know about jaywalking
Actually, this topic is not tangential to discussions of car-free
living. When I was car-free in Portland, one of the most common
questions people asked was, "Aren't you afraid to take the bus/light
rail at night?"
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- It gets worse, recently four children died in a fire
here in Bangladesh, after their parents/uncle locked
them in to go to the doctor. If they had trusted
their neighbors, it wouldn't have happened. In our
own experience, we were successfully robbed after
moving to a higher-income neighborhood, while in a
lower-income one, our neighbors prevented the one
robbery attempt. (We HAD to move, partly because the
smell of sewage became overpowering.)
A character in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales says it
very well, after she is beaten up by her husband's
enemies: the best security is a good relationship
with your neighbors. No wall or security force will
save you if your neighbors are out to get you.
Just another reason why we are promoting
environments conducive to outdoor interactions in
urban areas. But everyone I talk to here says, focus
on the lower-income groups, because the rich care
about prestige, not quality of life. Can it be
--- Simon Baddeley <s.j.baddeley@...> wrote:
> ... And my piece on ³burb cowards²http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2005/12/27/75328/953
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- And the belief that the economy must always continue
growing. If the post-WWII housing crisis had been
addressed through building of apartments, people would
have bought a lot fewer cars and appliances.
Isolated, single-family houses were seen as a great
way to encourage large purchases which would in turn
create jobs. As houses became a financial investment
rather than a home in a community, owners worried more
about potential (though apparently rarely realized)
drops in property value if blacks moved into the
neighborhood, than about integrated, positive,
If people were happier, they would buy fewer
unnecessary things, and capitalism, at least as
currently defined, would falter. Unless we shake our
belief that the economy must always grow through
unfettered consumerism, I don't see much hope for
changing government policy away from encouraging
Of course I agree that racism is also a factor!!
but the middle class are going to be far more
concerned about property values than integrated
--- "J.H. Crawford" <mailbox@...> wrote:
> housing policies from the 1930s, which spawned
> are, at their heart, racist.
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- On Sat, 13 Jan 2007, Joel Siegel wrote:
>Of note, the history of minimum parking requirements, a constant obstacle
>>> As for *why* Americans approve of this jack-booted approach
>>> to "law enforcement," I just don't know. It's entirely clear
>>> that they do approve, however.
>> =v= Approval is generally coupled with a foolish notion that
>> the police are acting methodically and not abusing their power,
>> two tests which the cop failed in this case. This notion
>> is based on what most white Americans see; those who've seen
>> otherwise tend very quickly to dispense with this notion.
> We US'ers (at least the 'white' ones, as Jym notes) have been carefully
> trained, especially over the last thirty-odd years, to Be Very Afraid of
> The Criminals (and, of course, now The Terrorists as well), and thus to
> give the police more and more power. From passing draconian
> 'anti-crime' laws to electing 'tough on crime' judges to electing 'tough
> on crime' politicians who appoint 'tough on crime' judges, to deferring
> to the police (especially on juries) when it comes to misconduct, to
> giving the police a free pass except MAYBE when it's caught on video
> (and often not even then), we have pretty much created a police state
> Perhaps off-topic, but an excerpt from Milton Mayer's 1955 book _They
> Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45_ have been circulating the
> net and appearing on what little progressive radio we have here. The
> parallels are chilling. The book is available from University of
> Chicago Press, Paper US$22.00sp ISBN: 978-0-226-51192-4 (ISBN-10:
to carfree proposals, originated in Nazi Germany, with the following quote
attributed to you-know-who:
"Above all, it is the young who succumb to this magic.
They experience the triumph of the motorcar with the full
temperament of their impressionable hearts. It must be
seen as a sign of the invigorating power of our people
that they give themselves with such fanatic devotion to
this invention, the invention which provides the basis
and structure of our modern traffic."
-- Adolf Hitler
Further information as to the ties between U.S. auto makers and oil
companies to the Nazis is well documented. (For example, Ford was given a
public award by Hitler; U.S. auto makers helped build Nazi war machinery.)
> Excerpt at http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/511928.html; with[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> your indulgence I'll quote a few paragraphs here.
> "What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by
> little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions
> deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so
> complicated that the government had to act on information which the
> people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people
> could not understand it, it could not be released because of national
> security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in
> him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would
> otherwise have worried about it.
> "This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap,
> took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps
> not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated
> with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the
> crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they
> did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of
> government growing remoter and remoter....
> "...Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little
> worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great
> shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will
> join with you in resisting somehow. You donÿÿt want to act, or even
> talk, alone; you donÿÿt want to ÿÿgo out of your way to make trouble.ÿÿ
> Why not?ÿÿWell, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just
> fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine
> "Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as
> time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general
> community, ÿÿeveryoneÿÿ is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly
> sees none. You know, in France or Italy there would be slogans against
> the government painted on walls and fences; in Germany, outside the
> great cities, perhaps, there is not even this. In the university
> community, in your own community, you speak privately to your
> colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say?
> They say, ÿÿItÿÿs not so badÿÿ or ÿÿYouÿÿre seeing thingsÿÿ or ÿÿYouÿÿre
> an alarmist.ÿÿ"