Orfield, Myron. Metropolitics: A Regional Agenda for Community and Stability. Cambridge, MA: Brookings Institution Press; Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 1997.
Myron Orfield identifies six distinct types of suburban communities:
- at-risk segregated,
- at-risk older,
- at-risk low density,
- affluent job centers, and
- very affluent job centers.
These six types represent one of the greatest challenges of suburbia: the socio-economic stratification of the suburban population. (31-48)
Social separation leaves middle-class children in overcrowded, underfunded schools, but its more powerful harms accrue to the poor people of color left behind in communities of concentrated poverty in many American cities and some older suburbs. Neighborhoods of concentrated poverty destroy the lives of the people trapped in them and create a growing social and fiscal cancer in the midst of previously healthy communities. In cities and older suburbs, as joblessness, racial segregation, and single-parent families come to dominate neighborhoods, residents are cut off from middle-class society and the private economy. Individuals, particularly children, are deprived of successful local role models and connections to opportunities outside their neighborhood. A distinct society emerges with expectations and patterns of behavior at odds with middle-class norms, and the ‘exodus of middle and working-class families from ghetto neighborhoods removes an important social buffer. (53-54)
Read Filling the Governance Gap by Allan Wallis, my annotated copy of this article.
Wallis, Allan D. “Filling the Governance Gap.” National Civic Review 87, no. 1 (1998).
The dominant vision for regional growth
- Ownership of a detached single-family house;
- Automobile ownership;
- Low-rise workplaces;
- Small communities with strong local governments;
- Environment free from signs of poverty.
Downs says the dominant vision succeeds admirably in satisfying short-term needs, while simultaneously making it more difficult to solve long-term problems. (103)
Past solutions, notably those that are essentially structural (such as city/county consolidations), offer limited promise for filling the governance gap. Never- theless, some sustaining structure is essential lest regionalism resolve itself to being a celebration of process over substance. But what kind of structure, and how much is needed? “Herein lies a regional paradox,” Savitch and Vogel con- clude. “If metropolitan regions are to pursue effective policies, they must be politically viable (i.e., command popular and elite consensus), yet regional bodies whose policies go beyond the bounds of consensus are apt to lose that viability. In effect, the more aggressive regions become, the less power they possess. Regional bodies must then forever balance these tensions, trading off and adapting themselves to pressure and circumstances. The challenge is to do this while taking a long-term view of the need to convert political legitimacy into broader political mandates.”
Toward a Missional Spirituality in the Suburbs