What will we live like in 2030?


Watch the full episode here.

As we peer into society’s future, we — you and I, and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Imagining a New Florida aired on PBS in May. But since I don’t own a TV, I had put this on my list to things to watch when it came online… then I forgot about it.

The program offers a comprehensive look at our history of rapid, exuberant growth and its consequences on community and quality of life. Sprawl, isolation and transience has defined Florida for a long time, but we’ve been distracted from its ugliness by the temporary prosperity of unsustainable growth. And now we’re paying.

Some quotes that struck me:

Everything in the suburban landscape is designed to be moving at 35mph. So when you’re going 35mph we’re going to be able to make sure you can see Burger King and McDonalds… so the reason it they look like big cartoons is so at 35mph you can see them. But if you’re walking by them… oh my God this is ugly. And it’s spaced out, so it’s not designed for the human being… we basically went from designing our towns… being designed by landscape architects… to being designed by traffic engineers who do formulas… so what you have is a landscape designed for movement and movement only.

Bruce Stephenson, PhD
Rollins College

New homes in the United States are twice as large as new homes in Europe. Why are they so large… given also that as families get smaller, homes get larger? Because the home has to substitute for community. You buy everything you can afford, and a lot of things you can’t afford, to make the home more entertaining. But, again, what’s lost in the process is community.

Ray Oldenburg, PhD
Author, The Great Good Place

Lots of good info (especially for those who have not lived here long, or our out-of-state readers) about the refugee nature of our population and how that’s long been a detriment to sense of place and community investment. In a way, imagining a new Florida is more like reviving the Old Florida. There are some nice profiles of Old Florida communities with multi-generational histories.

The program also takes an honest look at the history of New Urbanism in Florida, its early mistakes, and how it is evolving from Disney World sterility into more sustainable, authentic community development. Likewise, once we abandon the popular-but-fallacious symbolism of the complete streets movement, and return to traditional principles of the public way, we’ll find the key to human-scale transportation and community interaction.

I know my life has become far more meaningful since I downsized and moved into the urban core. The sense of community I get from using a bike for transportation has enhanced my sense of place in Orlando. It’s simple things: like stopping to talk to someone walking her dog; cheering on a kid who’s just had the training wheels taken off his bike; chatting with another biker at the Publix bike racks; making small human connections with other drivers (they can’t avoid a smile and a wave, and they usually return it); having the FedEx guy recognize me when he delivers a package because I wave to him whenever he passes me on my bike. It not only enhances my quality of life, I think it enhances theirs, too.

I believe, this is where we’re going. We’ve already turned the corner… or at least been given a clear opportunity to push the reset button.

The problems facing us today… are so significant they give me cause for hope. Because the only way we’re going to address them is to come together as a people… to solve them. That gives me hope that we will begin to share a common sense of purpose in Florida.

—David Colburn, PhD
University of Florida

It will be interesting to see what this place looks like in 20 years.

What’s your vision?

8 replies
  1. bencott
    bencott says:

    a return to Old Florida sounds like something i could get behind. i’m the 4th generation of my family to live in Conway. i say that with pride, but i’m not proud of what the neighborhood has become. my mom remembers playing in Conway Road. she remembers when her family got their citrus and honey from the back yard, and they got their eggs, dairy and produce from the neighbors in trade. even i remember harvesting the oranges with my grandpa, taking them down to ABC fruit company to get weighed, then pushing them off the back of the pickup onto a conveyor. those are memories of a place that’s long gone.

  2. acline
    acline says:

    If we are indeed at or near the moment of peak oil, 2030 will be a very different place. Will it be good or bad? That depends entirely upon what we do today to prepare for it. Downsizing, burning calories instead of carbon, moving into denser living patterns — all good, IMO. And necessary. And better!

  3. Will
    Will says:

    How do you undo billions upon billions of dollars of development? Write them off like they were a bad mistake and should have never existed? How do you tell people that bought a house thinking they would have a only have an hour commute and say “we’re not going to keep expanding these roads, and you’re too far flung for transit, so you’re just going to have to deal with it being 2 hours.” How do you tell them that they just aren’t as important any more.

    How do you tell them that their efforts to make themselves into the american dream, the urge to have a house above all other costs, is both going to suck you dry, in fact has already sucked you dry of any sense of community.

    How do you deal with the economic reality of billions of dollars in mortgages that will never recover, because houses in the exurbs will have permanently lost most of their value.

    I don’t doubt that we can nurture, build and grow neighborhoods and communities at people scale, sustainable, with a true sense of community and place and a high quality of life. I don’t doubt that one bit. its possible, attainable and within our grasp.

    I just want to know what do we do with the brownfields. The rust belt has been asking that question for decades now. What do we do with all the houses that nobody wants because their commute costs more then their mortgage?

    How do we tell the multitudes of people that own these houses that they were sold a pipe dream? ANd why don’t people realize that when they bought these far flung places, what they would give up, that they would lose a large essence of the human experience to chase society’s ill gotten dream of a house, 2.5 kids and a dog in a “nice” area. Gah

  4. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    I kept wondering where all the people were coming FROM. And now, where are they all going TO. It’s not like these people just spring up or disappear in a vacuum.

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      They’re coming from the northeast and midwest, they’re going to the Carolinas. Or dying.

      Not sure if it’s still the case, but Florida’s #1 export used to be full caskets heading back to wherever the deceased called home. As Bob Graham says in the video, they move here, but never call Florida home. As a result, they don’t want to invest in the community, the tax base, school systems, infrastructure, etc.

    • Eric
      Eric says:

      “where are they all going TO”

      A lot of them are moving to Tennessee, another state that doesn’t have an income tax. And a typical homeowner in TN pays $500 a year in homeowner’s insurance vs. what I paid yesterday – $1900.

      NC is a bad deal, financially. Income tax and personal property tax (that’s where they tax your couch every year.)

  5. john
    john says:

    Wish you were right but there’s no going back… at least in a joint-friendly way. Automobility is now the standard and the public is addicted to it on a massive scale. The latest idea of heavy carbon consumers is to totally eliminate cyclists from the roads where speed is preferred over STR… so popular that even more roads were added to the proposed list at a public meeting: http://blog.adventurecycling.org/2010/07/another-bike-ban.html

    I too hope that the growth of sprawl and isolation may be slowed (if not reversed) but if St Charles is even partially successful, expect more bans-less rights for cyclists. Meanwhile DOTs around the country are installing more rumble strips where cyclists often feel the safest on roads with higher speed limits: http://blog.adventurecycling.org/search?q=rumble+strips

    Perhaps only the costs of Peak Oil can change the strongest and most prevalent trends in the design of our communities and public roads. The current Deepwater Horizon catastrophe has failed to change the “drill-baby-drill” mantra.

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