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Places Worth Caring About

March 17, 2009
Streetcar ties found during road construction on Greenfield Avenue and South 1st Street (photo by DFasule)

Streetcar ties found during road construction on Greenfield Avenue and South 1st Street (photo by DFasule)

Via John Michlig at Sprawled Out, I came across video of James Howard Kunstler’s TED presentation on suburbia.   What I took from it was the immense importance of creating places in our lives that we care about and how that contributes to our feelings about our government.  When we live in a space that is inhibiting and depressing, Kunstler says, we’re less likely to feel like a part of a community.   I can’t help but feel there’s an element of this feeling of civic separation in the criticism of the streetcar circulator —  in essence, “we’re not worth having something like this.”

As we’ve facilitated the sprawl of our region in the past 50 years through expansive construction of roads we’re unable to afford, we’ve overlooked parts of our downtown because they served a purpose, albeit flawed, for motorists driving back into the city — they could park their cars there for free or drive on a now-demolished freeway that carried them practically right on top of the east side of Milwaukee.  Many of our fellow citizens have taken cheap gas for granted, and as they’ve been able to live without venturing into the heart of the city they’ve started to take it for granted, too.   The streetcar circulator represents a small step towards reversing this trend and restoring our city’s space to it’s past pride.

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