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July 23, 2004


Ye gods! Indeed a doctoral thesis. Thank you. Reading. Slowly.

You're definitely on to something, Anne. We live in a planned community of about 280 (?) houses, but the nearest shopping/restaurants are miles away. I go to the gym all the time, but I'm not sure that the hour there makes up for the lack of physical activity the rest of the day. Although, who wants to walk in the weather we're having now, anyway.

Gooch: Well, okay, good point. There are advantages to being in an air-conditioned SUV. I didn't say my arguments were perfect ;-P

A decent and well-organised variety of public transportation could easily transform a 40 minute commute from the suburbs into a 10 minute walk and a 20 minute bus ride.

Safety at and between bus stops late at night might still be an issue, but it seems to me that spreading surburbia doesn't have to equal the tyranny of single occupancy automobiles.

But then, I live in a part of Canada with decent public transportation, and I'm by necessity quite a fan, having been prohibited for medical reasons from driving, for the past 16 years.

How bad is the weather? I love walking in the wind and the cold. I get hot easily and really appreciate being able to walk for a long time without sweating profusely and needing to strip off, and then carry, multiple layers of clothing.

Don't forget stress. I think as Americans we are stressed out from long commutes and ever increasing time at work. (Note to non-US readers: with our lousy economy we work even longer hours because we're so scared of getting fired or laid off). We also lack the support of extended family with childcare and have to rush around picking up and dropping off kids at daycare, school, and afterschool care/programs.

So we self-medicate with food, booze, drugs, television, and video games. Lord knows when I'm stressed out, I head for the food. But I also head for a good book, too.

We're also time crunched which just adds to more stress.

And yes, we have to drive everywhere. I drive places just to go somewhere with my children where I can walk around and see something besides endless miles of housing, like an outdoor mall or the zoo.

I wouldn't say that things are greatly different here for most people. I've long complained that one would need to be a millionaire here to be able to live the same simple, healthy life as an Italian or French peasant farmer.

N: If you can get out of driving for any reason, count your blessings! Where in Canada do you live, btw?

As for mass transit, I agree 100%. Would you believe the LA area has the largest bus system in North America? Seriously. It serves a mere 15 million people. If I wanted to get to the beach, for example, I could walk a mile to the bus stop, take the bus to the train, the train to downtown, hop a shuttle bus to the express bus stop and then the express to the beach. A mere three hours, versus about 45 minutes by car.

Even the wise folks at The Economist were flummoxed by our region's sprawl when they wrote about it a few months ago in an issue dedicated to California's economy. The problem, as they saw it, is that there's no hub-and-spoke layout of big city-with-satellite-suburbs over which a transit system could be superimposed.

I.e., to get from Point A to Point D doesn't require going through points B & C, which many people here see as an advantage. Towns don't line up like pearls on a strand, but as if someone cut the strand and everything scattered.

This is the model increasingly used for suburbia, as more and more metro areas swallow up former farmland and ooze into the countryside in every direction.

Isn't that the case in Canada too, in places like Vancouver? Or am I mistaken?

Andrew: Sad that Australians can't afford the Simple Life either. Is there anyplace left?

Anne-Marie: I'm honored to have a real, live DotMom visit my site! Welcome! And yes, stress is a huge factor, plus who has the energy to exercise after running errands and dealing with the kidlets all day?

Anne, while we're having a love fest here...I just love your site. This week it inspired me to do a little site redesign of my own. And my mother-in-law lives in Upland, and my brother and sister-in-law in Claremont (sp?) so it's nice to hear what's going on in their neck of the woods (what woods?) from you.

Thanks for sending people over to my blog. I found your blog through the link from the visitors. I've just added it to my blog links and I look forward to reading more.

You might be interested in some old posts on my blog about food: http://massengale.typepad.com/venustas/2004/04/us_obesity_diab.html and http://massengale.typepad.com/venustas/2004/02/slow_food_new_u.html There are some others at http://massengale.typepad.com/venustas/food_and_drink/index.html

Many thanks, John. I've often thought the Slow Food and New Urbanism movements complement each other: both attempt to recapture a lost time when we had less but enjoyed it more.

Anyhow, I'm just a bored hausfrau, and this blog is my personal view from the trenches of the "blandburbs." Nice to have such high-falutin' company as yourself.

Thanks for the links. Cool stuff.

Your insight about high fructose corn syrup, I believe, is right on. But think of the lobbying dollars (maybe not to Congress but rather to the American Medical Association and similar organizations) to keep THAT news quiet! From Coca-Cola and Pepsi just for starters....

Molly: Yes, that's no small part of the problem, isn't it?

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