Occasionally I wonder about the local Downtown Or Bust types, mostly because they so bitterly resent the idea of spending money on developing 199th Street when there’s so much work to be done on 9th; these horrid and insensitive sprawlers, they say, should be required to pay for curbs, and then should be kicked to them.
Similar people exist in the Twin Cities, to whom James Lileks replies:
So here are the options:
1. Live in a dense multicultural city where you can either walk two blocks to get Thai, or order it delivered and maybe stiff the delivery guy because the last time they got the order wrong
2. Live in a suburb where you can drive to get Thai from the strip mall place
Which is preferable? The first, because you’re not driving. The delivery guy is, but it’s a moped, and that’s cool. Also because the first example is not culturally insular.
By which some mean: a thin patina of accents, spice preferences, skin colors, and breakroom tales about eye-rollingly strict parents paints an illusion of kaleidoscopic diversity over a solid brick of group-think concerning four or five basic core issues. This reduces human beings down to ticks and gimmicks, and uses superficial cultural differences as proof of “diversity.” It is diverse, but it doesn’t mean anything, really. Every group that looks monolithic from the outside is fragmented on a fractal level on the inside, right down to — and including — the individual.
The point of a city is to find the commonality, not the difference.
The point of a city is to encourage the difference in the context of the commonality.
This form of group-think, incidentally, is bricklike for a reason: the only concept it bothers to understand is “density,” as in we need more of it. It is of vital importance to get people to buy $400k homes in the core, and to leave those $100k houses on the edge for stragglers, misfits, and Section 8. (They really, really hate poor people, because poor people reduce their property values.) How do these edge-dwellers get to work? Not our problem.
And spare me the word “sustainable.” In this town, we obey the Second Law of Thermodynamics.