What's been most interesting so far are the market forces it describes. To authors Ellen Dunham-Jones and June Williamson, the financial incentives for retrofitting are present and only gathering more steam.
- Reduced percentages of suburban households with children
- Growing market for multiunit housing in suburban locations
- Continued growth in percentage of jobs in suburban locations.
- First-ring suburbs that are aging and depopulating, and becoming comparatively central thanks to newer, farther-flung developments
"The future promises to alter our relationship to place as we continue to shift from an industrial to a postindustrial economy and society. This economy is digitally enabled to be less dependent on geography, making the qualities of individual places matter more in locational decisions ... a primary goal is to build and support an identifiable, durable place to which people will be attracted."
At first I thought, you ninny, we are obviously post-industrial. Then I remembered that I am 24, and the author could be double my age. I've never even really lived in an industrial economy, so acknowledging post-industrialism feels calling my music habits post-vinyl.
My second impression is that her assessment of our evolving geography is on point. A knowledge economy is, at least comparatively, a movable feast. In determining where to look for jobs, or where I'd like to live, I determine my shortlist exclusively by quality of place. After that cut, other factors dominate (well, just one, really--employment), but I hadn't really considered the implications of such radical mobility. With the power of the internet fueling national and international job searches and instant information gathering, the barriers to getting a job in x place because it seems like the bomb.com get lower and lower. And let's get tighter: even moving to x neighborhood, or x street. It seems more people than ever have* the kind of choosing power and information re location and place that is traditionally reserved for appliances and car stereos. A more powerful customer can certainly shift the old demand curve ...
*Or do they? Having a family with a stable financial background and a college education seem completely essential here. And those are two big caveats. As suburban places improve and diversify their land-use in desirable ways, I wouldn't be surprised if traditionally marginalized groups get priced/elbowed out into the newly least desirable spaces ... actually I kind of expect it. Keeping the less-mobile in mind will be critical to ensuring that the boon from these market forces (better places) are equitably available.