Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Obama: “The days where we’re just building sprawl forever, those days are over”

For the President of the United States to utter this sentence is a big deal. It really is. Earlier last month in another post, I briefly mentioned Obama's appreciation for cities and his knowledge of the works of famous urban philosopher, the late Jane Jacobs. This consistency he has shown during the last couple of years during his campaign, and now presidency, is something that should not be underestimated as President Obama, who has high approval ratings and is seen as a generational leader the likes of which we haven't seen since Reagan or JFK, has a lot of clout and is in a position to alter the course of the American psyche and its attitude toward the unsustainable "American Dream" of urban sprawl that helped get us into the trying times we face today as a nation.

Obama's mention of urban sprawl and the need for investment in public transportation occured yesterday at the town hall meeting in Fort Meyers, Florida by the way. A transcript in fuller context is available here thanks to the Transportation for America interest site.

I expect sprawl to continue on; it ain't going away like that. But as we head into the 21st century with the urgent need to break away with the direction our country had previously gone on a variety of issues, the issues of sustainability both economically and environmentally will prove very challenging to the post-WWII/1950s era of city planning that took place during what was then a totally different country with a different outlook.

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