Thursday, August 04, 2011

Suburbia Stuff

I was pretty uncomfortable when we first set up in Grandmas house in the suburbs. But I have found an attitude adjustmant about the whole thing. I've been much more interested and comfortable since we got back from the road trip. Making changes in the kitchen was a big help...just making it more functional and stuff. Seeing my family and friends and spending so much time with them catching up...really changed my attitude. Gave me a real big boost of energy. I do miss everyone really badly but feel as if I am stoked for new things around here.

If you saw the backyard you would think I was such a loser for feeling reservations about the suburbs. The back garden is really pretty and lovely. It has a lot of poitential with two large trees. It would make an excellent location for small vertical gardens. I don't liek flat gardens for growing food and prefer tall structures to grow food I have posted many times.

I actually lived on a farm, a ranch, when I was a kid so I know how terrible the farmign life is...and how much work growing food is....but I think that designing a vertical garden might be a challenge I would enjoy and help me appreciate the area here in the suburbs.

I got an email froma friend suggesting I write a bit here about the suburbs, what I like what I don't like and highlight some features about the suburbs.

I am not sure if I have a lot to add that I haven't already posted about here.

The first con about the suburbs is the design. The expanse of roads and gardens make for uncomfortable travel. You pretty much have to have a personal vehicle. To get to anywhere the roadways, sidewalks (if you can find sidewalks) is uncomfortable. The design is in many ways wasteful of space. The space in an urban setting is so well organized and organically economic to human life. The suburbs aren't very human friendly. The lack of social contact while drivign aroudn doing errands is one example. The bland impersonally designed buildings and public spaces in the suburbs which include malls, fast food joints and institutional buildings is alienating.

Some of the things I am enjoying about the suburbs are the quiet streets for driving ha ha. The neighbourhood streets are pretty quiet. this is also rather pleasant for sitting in the back garden. We also have a lot of space in the house. Or rather potential space. this is very interesting to me. One thing I have considered is doing some kind of food service in one of the bedrooms. this idea is so far a fantasy and I haven't made any actual attempt to pull this off. But one crazy idea I had was doing a high tea service. or twitter a service time and brief menu outline...and take reservations. I've thought about setting up a tea room and cafe area in the front bedroom with three tables and about 8 chairs. I am very attracted to the underground idea of bands playing short notice gigs and food service trucks just posting a location and then showing up for an hour or so to cook and serve food.

gFor me, what this kind of idea is triggering in me is about space. I just see a lot of space being wasted in the suburbs. The way the suburbs are laid out is radically different than urban cores. It is this difference why megacities don't work. It is this difference in approach to space that the suburb residents are inappropriate when they believe they should have a voice about the taxes, design and practices in urban centres. The suburbs do not understand how urban cores function so organically and economically. The abundance of space in suburbs warpps logical thinking. The design of the suburbs seems to actual control the lack of common sense one sees when you look around at space in the suburbs.

So...something I want to tackle if only on a personal level about our time staying here in the suburbs is how this space can be utilized positively for community rather than the current selfish alienating design of suburban areas.

My first step is to see if I can find any other people who are actively analysing this situation within the suburbs. One way I will look for these people is to seek out a gardening club or group. I would be interested in fidning people who have creative efficient gardens and if any of them have vertical gardens or sell or barter their food. Another thing I intend to look for are people pressuring architects and fast food and box chains. These community advocates exist in the urban cores but I wonder what difference of activists i might find in the suburb. A stereotype exists that the suburbs aren't socially conscious or enlightened about environmental or economical innovations.

Before I accept that stereotype...I think I should do some investigations.

I will be posting notices in libraries and grocery stores and looking on community bullitin boards for gardening and design and architect groups...any other ideas of how I would tryt o find innovative thinkers and experimental living in the suburbs?

Related Links:

1) Mud project in North Chicago

2) Finding construction companies that are commited to ethical materials and work practices can be difficult even in urban cores but here is a company in Chicago with a mission to be ethical...

3) Gardening club

4) Green Group

5) Growing on roofs in Chicago downtown

6) Ordeing online for Rainbarrels

7) Vertical gardening book

8) Webite of Patrick Blanc vertical gardener


Greg S. said...

Interesting stuff, Candy. How old is the suburb you are living in? Is it built up around an old town center, or did it simply get slapped together when Chicago was expanding? What is the ethnic makeup? What kinds of schools does it have? Any famous people, sites or events there? How does it fit into the city politically?

BTW, Germans often build fairly large underground cisterns into their small back yards to store rain water. Tap water is fairly expensive, so it helps keep the gardening costs down.

Candy Minx said...

Hey Greg, geez, those are all really good questions ha ha. I have no idea how old the suburb is but that is a great question. There isn't a town centre...which you really made me think because there is a feature that contributes a lot to the atmosphere of a suburb. Stagg's parents are about a five minute drive away, but their neighbourhood feels older and has a "town centre" of sorts...a kind of quaint main street. Whereas right here it's more developed for stores, malls and major thouroughfares. More in next post....thanks for the inspiration!

Candy Minx said...

p.s. gee that underground cistern idea is pretty clever...also helps protect the water from evaporation I would think...

mister anchovy said...

I grew up in a suburb that was the dream place for my parents. It had the things they wanted at the time including schools, shopping within walking distance, safe streets, their church, lots of room in the back yard for veggie gardens and fruit trees. My father always had a vegetable garden. He wouldn't think of gardening vertically because he had plenty of space to grow enough veggies for the family and lots of friends too.

I liked living there growing up, but as I reached adulthood I found myself drawn back to the city. These days, where they lived is hardly even considered suburbs. As you know, I lived there again years later, helping my father in his later years. That was a strange experience. I didn't like giving up the warehouse studio environment I had thrived in for years, but the opportunity to hang out with my dad in his later years overshadowed all that and I wouldn't trade a minute of that time.

These days I live in a community that was once considered cottage country for Torontonians. Long Branch actually had a huge summer resort. Later, I think much of the community became focused around the industries in which many people worked, such as Good Year and Campbell's soup. Much of that local industry died off along the way. The old Good Year plant is now a co-op housing community. This area has been through some ups and downs. I like it because it is like a village by the lake, and our house has the feel of a cottage with lots of mature trees.