Jun 19 2008
09:02 pm

That's a question that may have sounded a bit far fetched until recently, but now it at least begs thoughtful answers. This article from CNN (link...) again raises questions about wise development patterns and practices, and about what we should do going forward. None of us can say for sure what will happen, but many, if not most, of the indicators point to a significant shift taking place over the next decade or two. Our responsibility is to understand and anticipate these changes to the best of our ability, and to respond as appropriately and effectively as we can.

bizgrrl's picture

I think the ultimate will be

I think the ultimate will be when they have walkable, sustainable suburbs as well as urban living. We/they will need to anticipate more and better mass transit. We/they will need to anticipate a positive attitude to persuade people to work together.

Factchecker's picture

The obstacle

While we/they will be accused of being "elitist" throughout it all.

Less snarky: People shifting back urban is a good thing. It's just that any change too abrupt causes pain somewhere. Many suburban neighborhoods probably should be razed and turned into new farms, reversing the opposite trend. Some of these farms should be trees, whether farmed or just carbon sinks, and some should be modern energy farms.

Up Goose Creek's picture


Hmm... tear down the suburbs to plant a tree farm? Overall, with so many subdivisions going in on former pastures, there is a gain in tree cover especially 20 yrs after a subdivision is developed. Plant some fruit & nut trees and you're contributing to the food supply.

I don't know why the push to tear down subdivisions is coming from environmentalists. There is a lot of embedded enregy in the buildings. Focus on carpools, park & ride, changing workplace culture so employees come and leave at the same time, work from home, etc.

Less is the new More - Karrie Jacobs

Nelle's picture

Double bullshit

Sprawl means more trees? Surely you jest (PDF):

Between 1989 and 1999, heavy tree cover (areas with greater than 50% canopy) in Knox County declined by 2.2% (a loss of 3,262 acres). Area with less than 20% tree canopy (urban and agricultural areas) increased by 9.8% (up 14,883 acres). The greatest loss of tree cover was in areas with moderate tree cover (20-49% tree canopy)—areas that often represent a mixture of development and natural tree cover. These areas decline by nearly 42% (a loss of 11,621 acres ).


The City of Knoxville currently meets AMERICAN FORESTS’ minimum tree cover recommendations, but as development continues this tree cover will be in jeopardy.

Sure, we could be doing development in a way that improves tree cover and stormwater retention, or at least didn't worsen them, but we don't, not yet at least.

Tree ordinance? Developers bitch, and it doesn't pass.

Good stormwater regs? Developers whine, and they get weakened.

Screw the air and water -- we got mindless sprawlin' to do.

Factchecker's picture

Hmm... tear down the suburbs

Hmm... tear down the suburbs to plant a tree farm?

That's not exactly how I put it. Anyway, it ain't gonna happen, maybe, but it's just a thought. Like getting rid of James White Pkwy and making a more livable, non-internal combustion engine based community. Things happen in cycles. The future will not support the old model of expansion. Things go in cycles. Some of these suburbs are not going to revitalize.

You may say that I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us...

(I don't buy the sprawl = more trees argument. That's for the dittobrains.)

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