Home from Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the 21st Centuryby James Howard Kunstler
In Home from Nowhere Kunstler explores the growing movement across America to restore the physical dwelling place of our civilization. Picking up where The Geography of Nowhere left off, Kunstler describes precisely how the American Dream of a little cottage in a natural landscape mutated into today's sprawling automobile suburb in all its ghastliness, and why "we are… See more details below
In Home from Nowhere Kunstler explores the growing movement across America to restore the physical dwelling place of our civilization. Picking up where The Geography of Nowhere left off, Kunstler describes precisely how the American Dream of a little cottage in a natural landscape mutated into today's sprawling automobile suburb in all its ghastliness, and why "we are going to run shrieking from it to a better world." He locates in our national psychology the origin of Americans' traditional dislike for city life, and what this implies about our ability to get along with one another. Most important, Home from Nowhere offers real hope for a nation yearning to live in authentic places worth caring about. Kunstler calls for a wholehearted restoration of traditional architecture and town planning based on enduring principles of design. He declares that the public realm matters, and that it must be honored and embellished in order to make civic life possible. He argues that the idea of beauty must be readmitted to intellectual respectability. From Seaside on the Florida panhandle, a bold experiment to create a radically better form of land development, to the reclamation of inner city neighborhoods, Kunstler documents the movement to revive American communities and a shared sense of place - presenting the crisis of our landscape and townscape that is at the center of the debate about this nation's future.
In The Geography of Nowhere (1993) Kunstler took on the blandness and monoculture of the American suburb. Here he extends his sometimes scattershot argument to remark that while suburbs are "a profoundly uncivil living arrangement," our cities are increasingly remade as if to intentionally prevent the human interaction from which civil society grows. "It is hard," he writes, "to imagine a culture less concerned than ours with the things that make life worth living," like clean, tree-lined streets and self-contained neighborhoods. His argument is diffuse, sometimes unfocused, but Kunstler's call to reinvent our towns is nonetheless well taken. Along the way, he offers reports on communities attempting to fight back; analyzes the decline of the unzoned, multiple-use, Main Street in favor of compartmentalized residential, commercial, and industrial zones; looks at the segregation of the poor into housing projects that keep them from interacting with other social classes; and examines the advent of a modernist architectural aesthetic that says, he maintains, "We don't care what goes on outside our building." Among the high points in a book full of good observations is a clear discourse on property taxes, as well as Kunstler's rant that since WW II we have become, "by sheer inertia, a nation of overfed clowns, crybabies, slackers, deadbeats, sadists, cads, whores, and crooks." These are harsh words from a self-described old hippie, but Kunstler's attack on a society that seems bent on denying its problems is not at all unwelcome.
Give this good book, which dreams of life "in a nice town in a civilized country," to your local town planner.
- Simon & Schuster
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- 9.46(w) x 6.40(h) x 1.06(d)
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