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Experiences in a car

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  • Karen Sandness
    Dear Everybody, I had to transact some business in Corvallis, Oregon, a town where I lived many years ago, and I checked the bus schedules to find that I would
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 5, 2002
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      Dear Everybody,

      I had to transact some business in Corvallis, Oregon, a town where I lived
      many years ago, and I checked the bus schedules to find that I would have to
      either 1) leave Portland at 4:45 A.M. or 2) return to Portland at 8:15 P.M.
      in order get myself down there and not have to turn around and come back in
      an hour.

      Reluctantly, I rented a car. (The people at the rental agency were surprised
      that I didn't want a ride from my apartment to their office, which is only
      eight blocks away.) The drive down on the freeway was boring, and Corvallis
      itself had some new buildings, but otherwise, its physical footprint had not
      altered much. Not having lived there for 16 years, I realized that my mental
      map had faded, however, and building after building and street after street
      popped back into my memory as it came into view. I was pleased to see that
      Corvallis is still a haven for cyclists, and that the merchants along Monroe
      Avenue, the "main street" of the university neighborhood, had added
      roofed-over bike racks (a nice touch in a town where it can rain seven or
      eight months a year).

      I decided to return via the "scenic route," US 99W, which passes through
      another town where I once lived, McMinnville. During the entire seven years
      that I lived there, McMinnville was a genuine small town, with a downtown
      and only a few slobburban-type chain businesses on the outskirts. There were
      ominous signs back then. A Wal-Mart opened shortly before I left.

      Well, I hadn't been there for eight years, and how things had changed! The
      town had "grown." I put "grown" into parentheses, because it had merely
      expanded in size instead of increasing in sophistication or amenities. The
      edge of town closest to Portland has acquired every known slobburban chain
      store and fast food restaurant. Meanwhile, the edge of the town farthest
      from Portland seemed to be faded and depressed. The hospital that I knew was
      in the process of being torn down, presumably to be replaced elsewhere.

      It used to be possible to walk to nearly everything in town. No more.

      Like all Oregon towns, McMinnville has an urban growth boundary, so there
      were intermittent stretches of countryside all the way into Portland. But
      what the town officials of McMinnville had down with the land inside their
      urban growth boundary was edge city non-planning at its worst. McMinnville
      could have preserved its charm, but it chose not to.

      In transit,
      Karen Sandness
    • Simon Baddeley
      Thank you Karen. Seems odd thanking you for such a sad description - but one of the important things being done on carfree - as well as exploring positive
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 5, 2002
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        Thank you Karen. Seems odd thanking you for such a sad description - but one
        of the important things being done on "carfree" - as well as exploring
        positive alternatives to contemporary urban forms - involves bearing
        articulate and passionate witness to what is wrong with "sloburbia" (did
        you coin that word? I like it). My best diatribes (I say it myself) tend to
        be about the demeaning tedium of autodependency.

        Simon


        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Karen Sandness" <ksandness1@...>

        Well, I hadn't been there for eight years, and how things had changed! The
        town had "grown." I put "grown" into parentheses, because it had merely
        expanded in size instead of increasing in sophistication or amenities.
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