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YOUR VIEWS ON DISMANTLING THE CITIES


From 'Shemp'

I would like to suggest adding "dismantling transportation" to your list of topics. It is, along with overpopulation, one of the most pressing issues facing us today. Fossil fuels power all but a fraction of a percent of motor vehicles, the infrastructure (highways, streets, garages, bridges, and more) is massive and harmful both to the environment and the people using it, and the ease of use of cars has caused the spreading blight of suburbs. "Take back the streets" a militant movement against motor vehicles, the CarBusters magazine, the "Critical Mass" movement and others are all working to correct the waste and imbalance in the area of transportation. I urge you to support these organizations and do your part to dismantle the transportation monster.

Be warned; the ultimate opposition you will face in this effort is the international petrolium industry. They are the ones, along with car companies, defending the gas-guzzling inefficiency common to all motor vehicles. They have a lot of cash to through at you, and they fight dirty. Many instances of anti-activist violence have been recorded, most notably in connection with the San Francisco Critical Masses. If they fight dirty, we will have to also. The Ozimandias collective's Guide to Direct Action is a good source of information on dismantling cars and larger vehicles, and almost anything else you can think of. It can be found at Cafe Underground on http://cafeunderground.com.

Thank you, and Good night.

Shemp


W. James
U.S.A.
March 6, 1998

While supporting the Dismantlement policy of reducing world population for ecological reasons (no one species can ever be allowed to dominate over all others, as that will eventually cause ecological collapse), I do NOT advocate the DISMANTLEMENT of cities. The proliferation of suburbs is one of the worst causes of environmental damage. The pollution of an 'inner city', although obnoxious, even harmful to its inhabitants, is pretty much localized. Where the effects outside of urban or industrially zoned areas multiply geometrically by accumulation just because of their scope (even though minimal in each locality) is in the areas of the countryside that are usurped by roads, shopping malls, and housing developments. Yes, there are decent public transportation options for commuters, so they don't have to drive their cars into London or wherever, but city gridlock is really a minor problem compared to environmental pollution -- the former is just an aggravation to the suburbanite who doesn't realize that every mile he/she has to drive at home back in the 'pristine' countryside to buy a loaf of bread that one can get in the city by walking a hundred yards or so, when multiplied by the hundreds of thousands, is actually causing more pollution than the city does. It's just that the "air" in the country is more rarified and you don't smell the damage as much. Three million cars spouting carbon monoxide, ten million refrigerators spilling fluorocarbons -- it doesn't matter where you do it. All that crap goes into the atmosphere and spreads around the world and into the total environment ultimately. Suburban living exacerbates this problem far more than cities for the simple reason that everybody in the suburbs has THEIR OWN whatever. In a city, 200 people will use the same neighborhood laundromat, in the suburbs everybody has their own washing machine. Guess what is going to cause more water pollution CUMULATIVELY (regardless of how dilute it might be locally)? It all ends up in the same river flowing to the same sea.

To my mind, cities are the SOLUTION to a lot of our current problems. More money should be spent on the infrastructures of urban areas -- a major sewage treatment plant in a big city costs a LOT of money, but it is really very minor compared to what you would have to spend to apply the same solutions in every little town and development sprawled around that city, areas that really do not have any strict controls at all -- which was the very reason they were built in the first place: cheaper for the developers and an enticement to city-dwellers who selfishly got tired of urban restraints (after all, it became illegal to throw the contents of your chamber pot out the window into the street a couple of hundred years ago in London, what an imposition on your civil rights!).

So, I recommend your providing an alternative plan for CITIES on your site, something to reinforce them as legitimate entities. We cannot go back to agrarianism, as even the poorest third-world countries know, where hordes of people flock into places like Calcutta that can't support them, rather than depend on the desperate and demeaning livelihood of a peasant existence. But at least (even though a place like that has probably built up a class of people who would be able and willing to set up US-style suburbs -- yes, build condos on ex-rice paddies, and have them collapse during monsoons, and collect huge insurance damages) -- no they don't have that yet as far as I know. So there is hope for them to solve their URBAN problems before the worse situation for the long-term survival of their environment happens.


G.Short
Brooklyn, N.Y.
March 8, 1998

I join W. James in my support of the cities and rejection of the suburbs. Having commuted to New Jersey for the last five years I have seen EVERY reason to reject the dismantlement of cities. Just driving (being driven) there every morning is depressing going along the 1950s style Route 22 with its 100 gas stations, fast food places, mini-malls, mattress stores, etc. (in this environment, a businessman paves over two acres, builds a one-story building, cheaply, and tackily decorated, with chachkas such as giant paint cans for a paint store, along the so-called eaves) -- here, everybody has to get in their car drive to a different place to get each thing they need -- there's even a place called the Shark Emporium, which is a tropical fish aquarium store, all by itself, by God, in a 2-acre parking lot. On the way back we take the Turnpike going by all the gasometers, refineries, junk yards, Newark Airport, in one of the most horrendously industrialized areas in the world (that's all 1960's and 70's) but on the way pass some specially built recent cloverleaf exits to some gigantic malls, including the largest IKEA furniture place in America, and a 12-acre Toys-Ar-Us childrens emporium that has its own exit sign. There is one short stretch where the turnpike goes by a bit of tidal wetland (which is what all this area is built on) where they left an acre or two of shallow reedy pond, which is always full of sea birds -- how the whole area must have been 100 years ago. Apart from that a vision from hell, especially when it's dark and you pass all those refinery flames and gantries lit up like a space shuttle ramp. It is truly a vision from Hades, except I ignore it for the most part, as do most other people.

That's the sort of appalling existence that makes me reject your Dismantlement of the Cities section entirely and actually advocate that cities should be BUILT UP and reconstructed as public policy, and 'green belt' development slowed down, or in my opinion just banned entirely.

Also, even though there's more of it, pollution can be controlled better where it's more concentrated, as in cities. Just look at the Victorian sewer system, which still works pretty much perfectly after 150 years, as far as keeping the streets from flooding, distributing water to houses, etc. (drinking water in suburbs comes from ground wells that get polluted by gas station tank leakages and other detritus). Reconstruct the damn cities, damn it. Don't push the urban poor into the suburbs, don't build any more suburbs for the middle/upper middle classes, don't build any more suburbs at all!

Please rename your page 'Dismantlement of the Suburbs' and rewrite accordingly.




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