The Dangers of Diffusion

 

I've previously written about the dangers facing cities in the upcoming economic collapse. Even as some "urbanists" are naïvely predicting that city cores will only strengthen during the coming decade as suburbs decline, cities face many hurdles. One is that second cities, both in the US and abroad are subject to a network effect, being left behind by a few more powerful brethren that get all the press. Been to Buffalo, Detroit, Utica, Syracuse, Albany, Newark or Paterson lately? Cities are a basket case.

But let's give equal opportunity to suburbs. Poverty has been dramatically increasing in suburbs during the last two decades. Take this piece on 18 Cities Whose Suburbs Are Rapidly Turning into Slums. Why is this happening? Certainly, in some cases, like New York, the poor are being priced out of cities. Instead of putting on our party hats and kazoos, as many urbanists seem to want, we should ask if this new form of out-of-sight/out-of-mind segregation isn't  evil. But that's not the only reason. 

Certainly part of it is the collapse of the US economy since the late 1960s, but there's more. Take a look at this article by Hanna Rosen from 2008 in the Atlantic Monthly in which she links the diffusion of poverty to government programs to get rid of the projects. As areas of concentrated poverty in cities are undone, poverty diffuses into a broader territory both within suburbs and within second cities (as in the case of Memphis, which is her focus).  

Network City is a complex place, a palimpsest of failed neoliberalist and Fordist policies. Unfortunately it is also not a very happy place, either, once you get past the shiny bits. 

 

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[...] The Dangers of Diffusion | varnelis.net varnelis.net/blog/the_dangers_of_diffusion – view page – cached I've previously written about the dangers facing cities in the upcoming economic collapse. Even as some "urbanists" are naïvely predicting that city cores will only strengthen during the coming decade as suburbs decline, cities face many hurdles. One is that second cities, both in the US and abroad are subject to a network effect, being left behind by a few more powerful brethren that get all... Read moreI've previously written about the dangers facing cities in the upcoming economic collapse. Even as some "urbanists" are naïvely predicting that city cores will only strengthen during the coming decade as suburbs decline, cities face many hurdles. One is that second cities, both in the US and abroad are subject to a network effect, being left behind by a few more powerful brethren that get all the press. Been to Buffalo, Detroit, Utica, Syracuse, Albany, Newark or Paterson lately? Cities are a basket case. View page Tweets about this link [...]

Diffusion in The Puget Sound Region

Seattle -- 5.7% poverty shift to suburbs
I work in the south east end of the City of Seattle, this has traditionally been the place where new immigrants and non white residents congregated. There has been a major influx of African and South East Asian immigrants in the last two decades. You see it in the business districts and strip malls and you see them walking on the streets. The young educated Caucasian population has also “discovered” this area and are creating upward pressure on housing costs. Where are the “minorities” and immigrants going? Into the suburbs that border the city. Kent, Renton, Seatac, these communities are growing with an influx of refugees both from foreign lands and from South Seattle.

I work with the refugee community and have deep respect for them, their plight and their struggles. Gentrification is a powerful force the poor are it's victims. Government and non-profits are the only tools that seem to have a chance of helping the poor with a helping hand. Market forces exploit the poor ruthlessly. People here are luckier than many other places, Seattle continues to have progressive leadership that see the benefit of helping those in need. We need to find better ways to integrate our cities, not just racially but integrate the classes as well.