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It's a Sprawl World After All: The Human Cost of Unplanned Growth -- and Visions of a Better Future

1 rating: 5.0
2005 nonfiction book by Douglas E. Morris

It's a Sprawl World After All The Human Cost of Unplanned Growth -- and Visions of a Better Future By Douglas E. Morris Suburbia has twisted the American dream into a nightmare. The US now has the most rapes, assaults, murders … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Environment, Sustainability, Urban Planning, Sprawl, Land Use Planning
Author: Douglas E. Morris
Genre: Sustainable Development, General, Conservation, Pacific
Publisher: New Society Publishers
Date Published: September 1, 2005
1 review about It's a Sprawl World After All: The Human...

The American dream could turn into a nightmare!

  • Jun 10, 2010
  • by
Rating:
+5

In the tradition of Robert Putnam's seminal 2001 book "Bowling Alone" author Douglas E. Morris offers "It's A Sprawl World After All:  The Human Cost of Unplanned Growth -- and Visions of a Better Future".   Although the focus of the two books is a bit different the conclusion that the two authors reach are strikingly similar.  To quote the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) "The unplanned growth of sprawl has left Americans isolated, alienated and afraid of the strangers that surround them.  Suburbia has substituted cars for conversation, malls for main streets, and the artificial community of television for authentic social interaction."   Douglas Morris opines in his book that Americans are growing tired of the lack of community and the absence of civility in their day to day lives.  Some may challenge his premise.  But "It's A Sprawl World After All" presents an extremely compelling case for the proposition that we as a nation need to reverse many of the policies that for the past 60 years have benefited a few at the expense of the rest of us.

The United States and Europe have taken very different paths since the conclusion of World War II. Spurred by an amalgamation of big money interests that included the construction industry, the automobile industry and the airlines, the U.S. government promoted policies that unleashed what would ulimately result in the unchecked growth that we have experienced over the past several decades.  In the meantime,  the folks in Europe have largely rejected these approaches our government so unabashedly promotes.  "It's A Sprawl World After All" cites example after example why the quality of life in Europe is so much better that it is for us in the U.S.  Even the most skeptical reader would have to cede Morris some points here.

Having been born in 1951, I am old enough to remember what real community is like.  I grew up in a blue collar neighborhood where I knew just about everybody.  People rarely moved.  There was a neighborhood grocery store (we did not need 50000 items!) and a variety store with a soda fountain.  In the summer we played baseball three times a day in a vacant lot.  We used to cut the grass in that lot ourselves so we could play!  I am still in touch with many of the folks from that neighborhood.  Contrast this to the way most youngsters are growing up today.  They are rarely home and even when they are they never go outside.  The houses they live in are much bigger than they used to be and equipped with all sorts of gadgets. But are these kids really happier than we were?  Douglas Morris agrees with the preponderance of data that would suggest that they certainly are not.

If you have never taken the time to consider the subject of sprawl and the social, economic and psychological effect it has on all of us then "It's A Sprawl World After All" would be a great place to start.  Douglas Morris has done a great job of explaining how sprawl came to be and why it is so destructive.  He goes on to make numerous practical suggestions on how each one of us can help to reverse these trends.  Finally, there is a valuable appendix included that cites a number of websites for those who wish to explore this subject more extensively.

"It's A Sprawl World After All:  The Human Cost of Unplanned Growth -- and Visions of a Better Future" challenges the way most Americans live today.  Unlike some books that are prone to be full of jargon, Morris makes his case in easy to understand language.  A great book to provoke discussion in high school and college classrooms or at the dinner table with your teenagers.   Very Highly recommended!

 

The American dream could turn into a nightmare! The American dream could turn into a nightmare! The American dream could turn into a nightmare! The American dream could turn into a nightmare!

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