August 20, 2010

95 Theses

What a difference a coast can make. I'm back in the east bay, in Danville to be precise. Danville, the town that either elicits perfunctory silence when I state it as my origin/current home, or exclamations of "my uncle/cousin/ex-boyfriend's stepdad lives there!" It's a spot that my dad said he used to drive past on Boy Scout outings and make fun of. Dan-ville--who'd ever want to live there, he'd ask. Milli Vanilli-land.

For the next year, I'll be getting into Danville and the 680 corridor along which it lies. I'll be discussing the (sub)urban planning choices fails that conspire to make Danville a land of Milli Vanilli. I'll be discussing the ways in which it is emblematic of 20th century, housing-market-fueled development patterns. And I'll be eagerly documenting the ways it might benefit from some complete-streeting, someplanning innovations, and some efforts to turn the no-place parts of it into proper, desirable places. Lots of this will occur by proxy, as I highlight best practices gleaned from other places, documented first on other sites.

I'll also be biking. And riding transit. A lot. As part of my effort to chronicle the ways in which towns and cities like Danville are flawed, or at least frustratingly designed for automobile use, I'm not using a car. There are, believe it or not, thousands of east bay residents who are without car by necessity rather than choice. While there are strong privileges that allow me to be merely a tourist in their world, able to resort to one of my family's two automobiles if my will should falter, I think the experiment will make the 20th century's major urban design flaw abundantly and experientially clear: our streets, our neighborhoods, our transportation networks, our homes, our entire built environments, and even our assumptions all revolve around the automobile. I dislike this, think that a whole host of problems arise from it, and want to change it ...

sign me,

the suburban avenger

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