Op-Ed: Stop Attacking My Suburb!

A proud suburban resident defends her neighborhood from the criticisms of city-dwellers. It's not walkable, it's not perfect, but it's home.
September 22, 2015, 12pm PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Joseph Sohm

Suburbs are much-maligned, and there are good reasons for that. But they are still home to untold millions, and a defense of the built environment we have is useful as a counterpoint if nothing else.

After all, suburbs are more urban than rural. Loretta Ellsworth writes, "I didn't grow up in the city or even the suburbs. I grew up in small-town Iowa. When I moved north to the Twin Cities metro, the suburbs felt to me like the big-bad city [...] I've discovered that every suburb is distinct and has its own personality. Too often those who know little about the suburbs group all of them under the same label."

While many suburbs are stereotypically white and well-off, today's demographic inversion is relocating poor people to the suburbs, where they risk being further written off. Ellsworth writes, "And as far as poverty is concerned [...] poor people living in the suburbs of the Twin Cities now significantly outnumber the needy in Minneapolis and St. Paul."

A suburban life can be interesting, and life can be boring downtown. While building suburbs may have been unwise in the first place, they exist, and people shouldn't be made to feel bad for inhabiting them.

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Published on Tuesday, September 15, 2015 in Star Tribune
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