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Old 09-20-2019, 08:40 AM
Marcus Flavius is offline
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To what extent is our man-made environment producing social pathology?


Depression, anxiety, drug use, suicides, crime, nihilistic violence such as mass shootings- to what extent can these symptoms of social pathology be blamed on our man-made environment?

Americans live in a nihilistic landscape of cartoon architecture, of looping superhighways and parking lot oceans, of strip malls and big-box stores, and an endless sprawl of tract neighborhoods full of plastic houses.

The schools look like insecticide factories, public buildings such as libraries, post offices, and courthouse are indistinguishable from bottling plants.

Our man-made made environment is entropy made visible. Entropy is the force in the visible universe that moves everything towards death and decay, and that's what our built environment signifies- death, decay, dissolution.

We consume anti depressants and other psychotropic drugs at the highest rate in the world. People continue dropping dead like flies from drug overdose. Suicides and mass shootings-are becoming increasingly common. The amount of despair bring generated by our man-made environment cannot be overstated.
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Old 09-20-2019, 08:49 AM
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It matters. It has been/is being studied; FWIW, researchers in this field refer to it as the "built environment."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Built_environment

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Originally Posted by Wikipedia
Research has indicated that the way neighbourhoods are created can affect both the physical activity and mental health of the communitiesí residents. Studies have shown that built environments that were expressly designed to improve physical activity are linked to higher rates of physical activity, which in turn, positively affects health. Neighbourhoods with more walkability had lower rates of obesity as well as increased physical activity among its residents. They also had lower rates of depression, higher social capital, and less alcohol abuse.
I'm not aware of research into whether the aesthetics of the built environment have an effect on physical or mental health, but it wouldn't surprise me to learn that they do.
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Old 09-20-2019, 08:51 AM
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The schools look like insecticide factories, public buildings such as libraries, post offices, and courthouse are indistinguishable from bottling plants.
I work in a manufacturing environment on a daily basis. I don't see any resemblance to schools or government administrative buildings at all.
Kind of odd to blame social ills on the urban sprawl environment. Plenty of the population is handling it just fine.
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Old 09-20-2019, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Marcus Flavius View Post
Depression, anxiety, drug use, suicides, crime, nihilistic violence such as mass shootings- to what extent can these symptoms of social pathology be blamed on our man-made environment?

Americans live in a nihilistic landscape of cartoon architecture, of looping superhighways and parking lot oceans, of strip malls and big-box stores, and an endless sprawl of tract neighborhoods full of plastic houses.

The schools look like insecticide factories, public buildings such as libraries, post offices, and courthouse are indistinguishable from bottling plants.

Our man-made made environment is entropy made visible. Entropy is the force in the visible universe that moves everything towards death and decay, and that's what our built environment signifies- death, decay, dissolution.

We consume anti depressants and other psychotropic drugs at the highest rate in the world. People continue dropping dead like flies from drug overdose. Suicides and mass shootings-are becoming increasingly common. The amount of despair bring generated by our man-made environment cannot be overstated.
Give me reliable transportation and food source, a climate controlled environment with plumbing and lighting, all the things that protects me from the elements and predators that try to kill me. I'll take it all over a cave and a fire existence, every single time.
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Old 09-20-2019, 09:17 AM
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Give me reliable transportation and food source, a climate controlled environment with plumbing and lighting, all the things that protects me from the elements and predators that try to kill me. I'll take it all over a cave and a fire existence, every single time.
Fair enough. But what if the choice is between a treeless concrete jungle that forces you to drive everywhere, and a walkable one with lots of greenspace, public gathering areas, and architecture that catches your eye and speaks to aesthetic sensibilities?

Jakarta, Indonesia is an interesting example. there are few public spaces and greenspaces, i.e. parks and such. But they have shitloads of shopping malls. Want to hang out somewhere? You don't go to a park, you go to a mall and bask in a completely artificial environment.

When it comes to architecture, do you want to live in a world of bland utilitarian buildings, or architectural feats that inspire people to come and take pictures? Do you want North Dakota's Capitol building, or do you want Wisconsin's Capitol building?
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Old 09-20-2019, 09:29 AM
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Fair enough. But what if the choice is between a treeless concrete jungle that forces you to drive everywhere, and a walkable one with lots of greenspace, public gathering areas, and architecture that catches your eye and speaks to aesthetic sensibilities?

Jakarta, Indonesia is an interesting example. there are few public spaces and greenspaces, i.e. parks and such. But they have shitloads of shopping malls. Want to hang out somewhere? You don't go to a park, you go to a mall and bask in a completely artificial environment.

When it comes to architecture, do you want to live in a world of bland utilitarian buildings, or architectural feats that inspire people to come and take pictures? Do you want North Dakota's Capitol building, or do you want Wisconsin's Capitol building?
It's really not an either/or scenario. We can have both. Modern conveniences, including highways and personal transportation allow me access to nature. I work in a major city. I live in the suburbs which allows me access to state parks, etc. I sail regularly on the Chesapeake because it's accessible due to modern roads and infrastructure.

As to the buildings you linked: I spent a year in Kansas City on business one week. It gave me a new appreciation for brutal style architecture. I like a variety of building architecture, tbh. I do HATE malls, tho.
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Last edited by QuickSilver; 09-20-2019 at 09:29 AM.
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Old 09-20-2019, 09:32 AM
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It's why I like living in Portland. All the jokes aside, it's generally a pleasant place, with a lot of Craftsman style houses, and decorative facades on public structures like schools and libraries. Old buildings with beautiful architecture have been preserved and serve as modern businesses. New multi-story construction often requires that the ground floor be "pedestrian friendly", meaning that it contains businesses instead of a concrete face. Neighborhoods are mostly walkable, with parks and extensive tree canopies.

That doesn't mean we don't have the problems described by the OP, of course, as they exist everywhere, but people here are generally pleasant and helpful to each other.
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Old 09-20-2019, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Marcus Flavius View Post
The schools look like insecticide factories, public buildings such as libraries, post offices, and courthouse are indistinguishable from bottling plants.
What's wrong with libraries, post offices, and courthouses looking like bottling plants?

Bottling plants, exterior views. They look pretty cool.

And what do "insecticide factories" even look like?
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Old 09-20-2019, 09:46 AM
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Are you including the pervasiveness of cellphones and social media in our "built environment"? How about PR/advertising?
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Old 09-20-2019, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
Fair enough. But what if the choice is between a treeless concrete jungle that forces you to drive everywhere, and a walkable one with lots of greenspace, public gathering areas, and architecture that catches your eye and speaks to aesthetic sensibilities?

Jakarta, Indonesia is an interesting example. there are few public spaces and greenspaces, i.e. parks and such. But they have shitloads of shopping malls. Want to hang out somewhere? You don't go to a park, you go to a mall and bask in a completely artificial environment.

When it comes to architecture, do you want to live in a world of bland utilitarian buildings, or architectural feats that inspire people to come and take pictures? Do you want North Dakota's Capitol building, or do you want Wisconsin's Capitol building?
Well said. The solution to this problem is building environments that are 1). Worthy of our affection, and 2). Human scaled, both physically and psychologically.
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:02 AM
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Much of the recent increase in suicide and drug overdose deaths has occurred in rural areas, far from looping superhighways and oceanic parking lots.
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:05 AM
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So not a fan of...

"Brutalist architecture, or Brutalism, is an architectural style which emerged in the mid-20th century and gained popularity in the late 1950s and 1960s. It descended from the modernist architectural movement of the late 19th century and of the first half of 20th century.[1][2][3] It is characterized by simple, block-like structures that often feature bare building materials. Exposed concrete is favored in construction, however some examples are primarily made of brick."

The environment definitely affects psychology, probably why there's so many studies about wall colors.in psych wards. At the soul sucking end you have offices like the one in Joe vs the Volcano. But there are ways to mindfully improve the atmosphere too, even in small easy ways you can do.
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:30 AM
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People have always been nuts. We're just labeling it more.
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Old 09-20-2019, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
Fair enough. But what if the choice is between a treeless concrete jungle that forces you to drive everywhere, and a walkable one with lots of greenspace, public gathering areas, and architecture that catches your eye and speaks to aesthetic sensibilities?

Jakarta, Indonesia is an interesting example. there are few public spaces and greenspaces, i.e. parks and such. But they have shitloads of shopping malls. Want to hang out somewhere? You don't go to a park, you go to a mall and bask in a completely artificial environment.

When it comes to architecture, do you want to live in a world of bland utilitarian buildings, or architectural feats that inspire people to come and take pictures? Do you want North Dakota's Capitol building, or do you want Wisconsin's Capitol building?
Indonesia will get a do-over as it plans to move its capitol to Borneo. It will be interesting to see if they have learned anything from the mess that is Jakarta.

https://www.npr.org/2019/08/26/75429...o-from-jakarta
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Old 09-20-2019, 12:15 PM
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Indonesia will get a do-over as it plans to move its capitol to Borneo. It will be interesting to see if they have learned anything from the mess that is Jakarta.
Even more interesting will be what Italy has to say about it.












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Old 09-20-2019, 12:34 PM
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I'll agree that stores that go in these days are pretty dull on the exterior, malls used to have a bit of style but not anymore, but why has nobody brought up the worst offerders of uglification, mega churches. Around here they are either complete dumps or converted factories. We have one that has a cross that looks like the "9/11" one. Two steel girders are embedded in the front of what looks otherwise like a high-cube warehouse. I'm not even going to go into the contents.
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Old 09-20-2019, 12:56 PM
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Fair enough. But what if the choice is between a treeless concrete jungle that forces you to drive everywhere, and a walkable one with lots of greenspace, public gathering areas, and architecture that catches your eye and speaks to aesthetic sensibilities?
As someone from a more rural background, I find the description of "walkable with lots of greenspace" as a sort of oxymoron. If a place has lots of greenspace (like exurbs or rural communities), then everything is far apart and not walkable.
"Walkable" means you took away all the greenspace around everyone's house, you stacked the houses on top of each other to make large buildings and then you sprinkle in small community gardens. Small community gardens are not "lots of greenspace."
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Old 09-20-2019, 02:49 PM
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IANAPsy-anything, and don't know how relevant this is, but Dr Stephen Ilardi of KU has some interesting observations on how our current environment has drastically outrun our ability to evolve to it. He claims we (humans) spent hundreds of thousands of years evolving to maximize wellbeing in a hunter/gatherer environment, and can't change fast enough to "fit" well in our technological environment. His data and thoughts on the rapidly increasing rates of clinical depression is pretty frightening.

I thought his talk on the subject was fascinating.

Last edited by pullin; 09-20-2019 at 02:50 PM.
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Old 09-21-2019, 02:37 AM
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If a place has lots of greenspace (like exurbs or rural communities), then everything is far apart and not walkable.
Not really. I live in a mid-sized city (pop. 200 000), a 4 km distance from the city center. My backyard is connected to a kms-wide forest and my walks to the city center go past oat fields and pastures, alongside a river. Lots and lots of greenspace, and everything within walking distance, or biking distance for the walking-aversed.
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Old 09-21-2019, 03:45 AM
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You claim that depression, anxiety, drug use, suicides, crime, and nihilistic violence such as mass shootings are caused by our modern environment. Before we attempt to show how these are caused by our modern environment, show us that they are any more common than they have ever been. I'm talking about statistics, not anecdotes.
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Old 09-21-2019, 04:34 AM
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You claim that depression, anxiety, drug use, suicides, crime, and nihilistic violence such as mass shootings are caused by our modern environment. Before we attempt to show how these are caused by our modern environment, show us that they are any more common than they have ever been. I'm talking about statistics, not anecdotes.
Drug overdoses:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/resiz...EJPIPBYYDY.png

Suicides:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped..._1981_2016.png

Mass shootings:
http://www.bigskywords.com/uploads/1...-year_orig.png

Depression:
https://consumer.healthday.com/menta...rs-725586.html

Violent crime has fallen compared to the absurd levels of the early-mid 90s, but even with mass incarceration and mass surveillance, violent crime remains above the rate it was in the late 60s.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/U0...Rn7E0bTHAFop3w
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Old 09-21-2019, 08:56 AM
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Suicide rates are higher in rural areas

I don't think sitting in traffic for hours each week provides any psychological benefits. And I also believe that the sedentary nature of most people's lives can be attributed to the fact that most places in the US are designed for cars, not pedestrians or bicyclists. If we were just a little more physically active, I think we would see increased wellness--mental and physical.

But I don't know if the physical ugliness of our environments is responsible for social pathology more than the stress of modern life.
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Old 09-21-2019, 09:10 AM
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Japan has a massive manmade environment and they do not have the problem with drugs, crime or mass shootings that we do. Depression, anxiety and suicide are common there though

Also according to steven pinker, people are much more violent in hunter gatherer tribes than they are in modern society.
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Old 09-22-2019, 05:05 AM
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Japan has a massive manmade environment and they do not have the problem with drugs, crime or mass shootings that we do. Depression, anxiety and suicide are common there though

Also according to steven pinker, people are much more violent in hunter gatherer tribes than they are in modern society.
Mega cities like Tokyo are monumentally dehumanizing and atomizing.
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Old 09-22-2019, 07:24 AM
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So if megacities like Tokyo are "monumentally dehumanizing and atomizing", why are crime, drug addiction, and mass shooting so low there? You're being hopelessly inconsistent now. You have to pick a single set of causes and a single set of effects (and you have to define them presisely). Then you have to show that consistently, with some statistical evidence (not anecdotes), everywhere that the causes existed there was an increase in the effects. You can't just say that in country X from year Y to Z the cause existed and during that time there was an increase in the effects. That increase could have come about because of other causes. If something truly causes something else, it should consistently cause it, not just in a few cases.
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Old 09-22-2019, 11:40 AM
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I agree completely. The U.S. needs far more Art Deco and far less Neoclassical kitsch.

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Old 09-22-2019, 12:11 PM
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Concrete canyons, so to speak, existed well before 1981 or 1999.
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Old 09-22-2019, 10:34 PM
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To what extent is our man-made environment producing social pathology?


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Originally Posted by D'Anconia View Post
Concrete canyons, so to speak, existed well before 1981 or 1999.


Yes, IMO the spikes on those charts correlate much more with the rise of social media than any of the proposed culprits in the OP

Last edited by Bootis; 09-22-2019 at 10:34 PM.
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Old 09-23-2019, 06:46 AM
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Mega cities like Tokyo are monumentally dehumanizing and atomizing.
I've been there a few times and I strongly disagree, the city is full of humanity, and I'm not talking about population numbers. It absolutely exudes culture (AKA human space), street performers, festivals, parks, temples, shrines bars an little Mom & Pop restaurants. a million things here and there in little gardens, alleys and side walks that show the touch of human hands working alone or as a community to create a healthy environment for people.
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Old 09-23-2019, 07:00 AM
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So if megacities like Tokyo are "monumentally dehumanizing and atomizing", why are crime, drug addiction, and mass shooting so low there?
You won't see many shootings in Japan because it's very hard for the average person there to acquire a gun.
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Old 09-23-2019, 07:06 AM
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I've been there a few times and I strongly disagree, the city is full of humanity, and I'm not talking about population numbers. It absolutely exudes culture (AKA human space), street performers, festivals, parks, temples, shrines bars an little Mom & Pop restaurants. a million things here and there in little gardens, alleys and side walks that show the touch of human hands working alone or as a community to create a healthy environment for people.
I've never been to Tokyo, but I've found that plenty of cities are like that; I live in a city like that.

Some people, though, just don't like cities, and nothing you say will ever make them see anything other than an overcrowded hellscape. I suspect the OP is one of those people.
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Old 09-23-2019, 02:08 PM
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This is what a 'typical' American street looks like- entropy made visible:
https://www.google.com/maps/@39.0283...7i13312!8i6656

This is what a normal street is supposed to look like:
https://www.google.com/maps/place/7+...7!4d-78.165931

Which street would you rather be on?
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Old 09-23-2019, 08:20 PM
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Show us the statistics that indicate that people who spend their time on streets like the first of your links are more prone to the problems that you talk about than people who spend their time on streets like the second of your links.
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Old 09-24-2019, 05:09 AM
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This is what a 'typical' American street looks like- entropy made visible:
https://www.google.com/maps/@39.0283...7i13312!8i6656
I'm sure you thought you were being clever or poetic or whatever, but that's not really what "entropy" means.

If you zoom out, you can see the rigid structure of 1 mile square superblocks, enclosing various geometrically laid out subdivisions, strip malls and office parks. That is literally the opposite of entropy. It is a system designed for strict order, isolation and repeatability.




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Originally Posted by QuickSilver View Post
Give me reliable transportation and food source, a climate controlled environment with plumbing and lighting, all the things that protects me from the elements and predators that try to kill me. I'll take it all over a cave and a fire existence, every single time.
I don't think anyone is talking about a return to prehistoric living conditions. People are discussing creating urban environments that are more livable and sustainable.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermitian View Post
As someone from a more rural background, I find the description of "walkable with lots of greenspace" as a sort of oxymoron. If a place has lots of greenspace (like exurbs or rural communities), then everything is far apart and not walkable.
"Walkable" means you took away all the greenspace around everyone's house, you stacked the houses on top of each other to make large buildings and then you sprinkle in small community gardens. Small community gardens are not "lots of greenspace."

Pavonia/Newport and the surrounding area of Jersey City, NJ is an interesting example of various types of urban environments in close proximity:
https://www.google.com/maps/@40.7357.../data=!3m1!1e3

What they are really talking about is the landscaping and architecture relative to the scale of the buildings and interaction with cars and other transportation networks.

For example, the Target store and its parking lot to the north near the rail yards has about the same footprint as 3x2 blocks of townhouses in Hamilton Park or the residential towners in Newport. It's not "walkable" because it's just a hot, flat, asphalt ocean surrounded by 6 lane highways. And the only thing you end up walking to is the Home Depot next door.
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Old 09-24-2019, 07:20 AM
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I don't think anyone is talking about a return to prehistoric living conditions. People are discussing creating urban environments that are more livable and sustainable.
Are you sure about that (bolding mine)?:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Flavius View Post
Depression, anxiety, drug use, suicides, crime, nihilistic violence such as mass shootings- to what extent can these symptoms of social pathology be blamed on our man-made environment?

Americans live in a nihilistic landscape of cartoon architecture, of looping superhighways and parking lot oceans, of strip malls and big-box stores, and an endless sprawl of tract neighborhoods full of plastic houses.

The schools look like insecticide factories, public buildings such as libraries, post offices, and courthouse are indistinguishable from bottling plants.

Our man-made made environment is entropy made visible. Entropy is the force in the visible universe that moves everything towards death and decay, and that's what our built environment signifies- death, decay, dissolution.

We consume anti depressants and other psychotropic drugs at the highest rate in the world. People continue dropping dead like flies from drug overdose. Suicides and mass shootings-are becoming increasingly common. The amount of despair bring generated by our man-made environment cannot be overstated.
My first response was flippant. But it was to contrast the heavily over-wrought OP about the effects of poor urban planning compared with some unspecified ideal of pre-industrial civilization. Do I like nature and trees more than concrete jungles? Sure. Who doesn't. Can urban planning be improved? For sure. But is there a real need to make the walk from Target to Home Depot a lovely and relaxing experience? Would be nice, for sure. How much should we invest in urban planning to make that possible when 98% of the traffic between the two is done by car because people aren't likely to carry schools supplies in one hand and paint cans in the other. They just want to push the shopping cart to the car and then get home as quickly as possible using the maximum available lanes of road in order to do so. In summary, ugly suburban landscapes sometimes put function over form because it's more efficient. But I would not object at all if they planted more trees on the route.
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