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Salvaging America's Infrastructure Part 3 | approaching problems from the vantage point of a clean sheet


  • Doing nothing - this is how YOUR AMERICA will look in 2060


One World of Nations
By Neo
3 February 2014


Back in the 60's the United States government decided that "urban blight," needed to be cleaned up in our inner cities.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD as we know it was promoting massive funding for cities across the US to "clean up," their infrastructure.  In no small measure the problems stem back to the civil war and its social upheavals.  In reality what most people with wealth wanted to do is get the poor into a more palatable package. They simply looked bad to everyone else.





Architects and Planners across the US began to explore options for what would "be best," for "those people," from their perspective.  The end result was a architectural Vietnam occurring within the inner cities.  The physical design did not take into account the social structures in place causing a kind of genocide to take place.  The architecture itself was the culprit.  No one bothered to involve the end user in the process.  By taking a "low rise," society and placing them in a "high rise," environment they took the existing mentor ship and security away from the community.


  

It is well documented that some of these developments cost more in police protection that it did to build them in the first place.  Many had to be torn down in effigy to our failed response to the civil rights movement.  Associated with this architectural travesty the entitlement programs sky rocked lead us to today's economic problems with some 47% of our society on a government pay check.




We may once again be approaching such a cross roads with a social fabric straining to maintain its head above water.  The fact is that our deficit spending coupled with our banking debt are signaling we are not.  The true cost of our federal deficit is well beyond 60 trillion while business and private bank debt is well above 50 trillion.  Our infrastructure can not nor has been supporting itself for some decades.




Developers will be in some cases forced to think about more than their bottom line as we retool our infrastructure with a much reduced energy foot print.  Countries like China may require us to use less as well.  No longer can the US utilize a disproportionate share of the worlds energy supply.





Regardless of the how or why, we are at another crossroads.  As in the 60's our infrastructure was costing more than we can afford to sustain.  In many ways we are only supported by the kindness of the foreign governments holding our TBonds.  Unfortunately we are now faced with the reality that nothing is to big to fail. Not even the United States of America.   Some issues are incontrovertible.

Good people are working on real solutions in the private sector.  The International Green Building Council is helping to reshape many perspectives.  Their approach to sustainable development are well documented and far reaching with its implications.  What is being championed by such groups is the need to approach our built environment with a new global perspective. 








The decisions we make can have a dramatic impact on our fellow man.  Resources we take for granted may be sending third world countries into economic chaos. Former members of the World Bank have admitted to the strategy of lending beyond a country's ability to repay.  Thus forcing them to sell their natural resources in service to debt.  It's time to reel in the American lifestyle and make room for everyone else on the planet.




New Approaches are being pioneered in the private sector that will offer alternatives to our many energy dependencies.  These approaches include a host of new ideas that can be implemented in any new design program.






On the horizon are new shapes and forms that are not "mechanically," rooted but are more organic in their inception.  The human experience should be the major focus on the design of space not defined thru the efficient use of a 4' X 8' sheet of plywood. New approaches and new concepts give us hope for a better more sustainable future. No longer is cheap oil driving the bus.






I am sure that when the infrastructure programs are funded with all that is on the table, they will look forward in their thinking not backward.  In this series of articles, we first had the unfortunate task of having to face facts that are often not comfortable to admit, then we identified what we can all do now to prepare, and in this last article we see a foreshadowing of what lies ahead. The future is bright, hopeful and obtainable.  Let's all move toward a healthier future with new found enthusiasm and determination. 


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