Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I have been thinking about blogging under a pseudonym. It's very useful when one wants to complain about annoying academics or discuss openly feelings of anxiety. Unfortunately it complicates my desire to write about my research interests. I have thought of starting a new blog under my own name so that I could write about my research and try to look smart, but I barely keep up with posting on this one. I don't think anything particularly bad would happen if someone figured out who I am, but don't want my sometimes peevishness to offend, so let me know if I step over the line when talking about someone else.

Here are some things that really get my mind working...

Our Ailing Communities: Public-health advocate Richard Jackson argues that the way we build cities and neighborhoods is the source of many chronic diseases.



wil said...

Great article. In one of my future lives I'm sure to be an architect and/or urban planner.

Chaser said...

I'm a little nervous about this work. I think they have a point, but I get really really nervous when people start talking about "top-down" leadership in planning.

The other thing I get shirty about is the notion that "loss of community" necessarily emanantes from the built environment of cities. I think these folks tend to believe some some romanticized notion of community that existed pre-suburb--like somehow, all the things that drive social exclusion didn't exist in cities prior to sprawl, and that everybody lived in wholesome, Mayberry-type places. Why, for example, are low-density suburbs more to blame for lack of community or obesity than television or inappropriately long work hours?

James Dunn has an essay that I assign to my students, who are usually absolutely enamored of of the Richard Jackson/Andres Duany/Peter Calthorpe line of thinking. It is important for scholarship, I think, to note Dunn's work because i think he is right about a number of important things that serve as barriers to implementing many of the prescriptions that these advocates put forward.

Breena Ronan said...

Chaser, I completely agree with you. My background is in environmental education which has very romantic ideas about "nature" as well. Last year I read Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv and as much as I wanted to embrace his ideas about the importance of nature experiences to kids, I'm not convinced that we have much evidence that this is true.

Frankly, new urbanism kind of creeps me out because the dominant design insiration seems to be mid-20th century small town America. This doesn't seem to me to be an appropriate motif for increasingly diverse 21st century American cities. My research actually involves participatory planning (at least I hope it will.)

I could go on and on in response to your thoughts, but I'll save it for an actual post.

The History Enthusiast said...

I totally agree with you, and I've also thought about having two blogs--one personal and one professional. If you decide to do it, I'd love to be a regular reader on both!