An Appreciation of the 'Edgy Outskirts'

Long abused by those who favor more urban settings, the suburbs of major metropolitan areas should receive more credit for their cultural capital, according to this article written for Zócalo Public Square.
January 26, 2016, 10am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Emily Goulding-Oliveira pens an appreciation for "the edgy outskirts" of large metropolitan areas. In this case, she's writing about the suburban areas of Los Angeles and São Paulo. "These flat, temperate, nearly endless expanses of homes are new, are growing, and are housing the future," writes Goulding-Oliveira.

Pushing back on the idea that suburbs are bland or even dangerous throughout the piece, Goulding-Oliveira expands on her core argument:

Globally, city outskirts are considered dangerous places and here in the U.S., with the luxury condos being built in American inner cities, poverty is increasingly appearing on the fringes. As a double citizen of these suburbs—by childhood in Temple City and by marriage in Hortolândia—I have a more sweeping and more positive view. For me, the fact that these places are vira-latas, places that flip realities, is a sign of their strength.

To the surprise of some, suburbs can also be a place that generates a great deal of the cultural trappings later co-opted in more urban areas. Goulding-Oliveira lists the recent cultural imports that can be traced to the suburbs

Most of what we call the new urban culture, from the U.S. to Brazil, is really suburban culture. The trendy food eaten in downtown L.A. or downtown São Paulo is the food developed on the outskirts: ramen burritos, fried eggs in soup, arroz e feijao, spam tacos, yucca fries. In sprawling megalopolises like Paris and our hometowns, suburbs are often where you can find the most interesting graffiti and music. Suburbs are—away from the gentrified core of these cities—where many young people and ethnic minorities are. In the suburbs, the rent isn’t too high, but the possibilities can seem endless.

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Published on Friday, January 22, 2016 in Zocalo Public Square
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