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but when I lived in Virginia Beach, in the Navy, we had to have a car.  If you go to VA BCH, you will notice that it is one large strip between VA Bch and Norfolk.  One big sprawl.  So, to go to the bookstore, you had to drive, to go to the grocery store, you had to drive.  Zoning, I imagine, stripmalls by the highway and main routes separated large neighborhoods without any stores.

Now, I live in a very small town in Sauerland, Germany.  Not too far from Dortmund.  I don't have a car.  I walk about 200 meters to the Plus grocery, the doctor is another 200 meters in the other direction.  Everything I actually need is available in the Fußgänger Zone that starts at about another 200 meters from my apartment.  I rarely use public transport - I walk or bike.  My energy consumption footprint is minimal.

And to think, when I lived in VA BCH, they killed a high speed rail proposal

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"

by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Mon Jul 7th, 2008 at 07:10:34 AM EST
One big sprawl.  So, to go to the bookstore, you had to drive, to go to the grocery store, you had to drive.

Think about this in terms of the policy debate about how to adapt to the high cost of oil.  One way to to up the mpg to sustain the sprawl model of urban development, while the other is to tackle oil use by making walking and transit an option.  

Why has the focus been on ways to make cars use less gas instead of ways to use cars less?

The reason that I bring conspicous consumption into the conversation is that it focuses on purposeful waste as a way to convey social status.  And I'm arguing that the persistence of wasteful economic behavior with auto mobiles and transportation has a lot more to do about conveying social status to others rather than any utility to accrues to the individual.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Mon Jul 7th, 2008 at 01:43:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why has the focus been on ways to make cars use less gas instead of ways to use cars less?

The train factories don't have a lobby, while the car factories do?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jul 16th, 2008 at 10:51:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think at least part of the reason is, that efficiency can more easily be sold as convenient. The message is, you can save the environment by purely technical solutions without any personal commitment.

And I think in Europe it is mostly not that way at all. Gas taxes are gas taxes, independent which way you are going to buy less gas.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Wed Jul 16th, 2008 at 11:26:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To be fair, anyone buying a car has the immediate option to use less gas.

Whereas going from a big sprawl to a low footprint city is not under the immediate control of the person making the decision...

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Jul 17th, 2008 at 05:51:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And I'm arguing that the persistence of wasteful economic behavior with auto mobiles and transportation has a lot more to do about conveying social status to others rather than any utility to accrues to the individual.

Of course, consumption is a way of showing off. So what alternative do you suggest?

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Wed Jul 16th, 2008 at 11:23:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, showing off by having time to spend with your loved ones seems like a good way. Of course, once something becomes a way to show off, you'll have the biznizmen move in and try to biznizize it - hence the coaches and lifestyle magazines and other BS we get these years.

But when it comes to ways of showing off, I'll take lifecoaching over SUVs and SUVs over rhinocerous hunting any day of the week.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jul 16th, 2008 at 11:31:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... officially a city, but in Ohio you are either a city or a village ... "town" is not a category ... and because Akron (and to a certain extent Cleveland) outer suburbia has grown up in the country around it, it still retains many of the retail center functions that small towns that do not have the same hinterland have long been losing.

And I can walk or ride my bike to the center of town, for the post office or the pastry shop or to catch the (only) interurban bus (on the rare occasion I need to get to a big box store), or walk or ride my bike toward the edge of town for the main market and bargain basement supermarkets.

But that's just good fortune and the fact that the town was already long established before the outer suburbia grew up around it. If the outer suburbia had grown up from scratch without the small town here, it would have been forced by zoning to be pure strip mall development to provide retail/professional services.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jul 7th, 2008 at 07:45:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"town" is not a category

But you do have townships.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Jul 7th, 2008 at 09:50:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, every part of any Ohio county that is not incorporated as a village or a city is part of one township or another.

"Township" means countryside ... thought of course with suburbanization many townships are far less rural than the township where I grew up, which itself was less rural than the classical Ohio countryside township.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jul 7th, 2008 at 10:14:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I had trouble "getting" the concept of townships for a while (I work with their finance data).  Obviously we don't really have them in the South, and I think they tend to really be more of a Northeast thing.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Jul 7th, 2008 at 10:29:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think they are spotty on the east coast (they had to be somewhere in the east coast to provide a model), but in the old Northwest Territory (now OH/MI/IN/IL/WI), they were a basic unit of the original frontier allocation of land ... and the county seat was originally too far away to get to on a regular basis in a rural county, so the township was also the most local unit of government, with elected trustees.

For instance, originally the local country primary schools were township schools.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jul 7th, 2008 at 10:41:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "township" concept is actually part of the public land survey system, which is used in all of the western part of the U.S. and the eastern and southern parts that were surveyed after about 1800.

The system is based on a rectangular grid, with 6x6 mile "townships" made up of 1x1 mile "sections." This forms the basis of the regular pattern visible from the air across most of the country.

Ohio was the first state surveyed using this system, and it's not as regular as the later states, so the townships aren't very square. As you go further west the system becomes more obvious, with streets aligned to the grid, "Baseline" roads (one such road goes through the middle of Boulder, Colorado), and obvious sharp turns at the places where corrections for the curvature of the earth are made.

Each township has one section reserved to support the township's school, and the regular pattern of government-owned sections can also be observed from the air...

by asdf on Tue Jul 8th, 2008 at 01:00:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... in school {mumble} decades ago. Except of course the part about the townships getting more regular once you left God's Own and headed further west ... no need to cover Iowa or Nebraska townships in Ohio History class.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jul 8th, 2008 at 10:29:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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