Suburbia: Copenhagen, Denmark

“Earth From Above” is the result of the aerial photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s five-year airborne odyssey across six continents. It’s a spectacular presentation of large scale photographs of astonishing natural landscapes and this one of one of the suburbs of Copenhagen, Denmark

Imagine if the suburbs of the United States were to be built in this fashion rather than the sprawling, haphazard way that they occur here.  Note that each house has ‘greenery’ at its back and a common circle in the center for parking, and each has its ‘wedge’ of the circle with privacy fences/shrubbery between.

I suppose that this is what one does when living in a country with limited land space.  Perhaps we ought to use this model before we denude more woodlands and pave over more farm fields.


11 thoughts on “Suburbia: Copenhagen, Denmark

  1. Just did a search on Amazon for textbooks on recent United States history from 1945 to the present. Would you believe none, that is 0, showed up.
    There is one titled “Recent America: The United States since 1945”. It covers from the end of World War II through Clinton. The cost is $83.00.

    The second is titled “Since 1945: Politics and Diplomacy in Recent American History.” This book covers from Truman through Carter.

    Perhaps, this helps to explain why the United States is in the precarious
    situation it finds itself political, economically, socially, and internationally.

    If most college students are left with an open general requirements block for graduation, and the choices are U.S. History to 1877 and U.S.History since 1877, what foundation do they have to understand the complex personal and governmental aspects of the Constitution? Maybe that is the kool-ade that we have been having them drink….

  2. Yann Althus-Bertrand has a television show here in France based on his work.
    I have his original volume, The Earth Below. It is a stunning work, amazing and terrifyingly beautiful photos of the patterns of nature and mans influences.

    I think a very interesting book that hasn’t been written yet, will be The Decline And Fall Of The Suburban Empire A history of post WW2 American Society, the rise and fall of the middle class and it’s dependance on petrochemicals

  3. Gentlemen: each of you is calling, “Author, author!” A book, they say. Who among us has the talent, knowledge and technical ability to assemble said book?

  4. Until about a week ago I thought that a book on recent United States history would be superfluous. Just an initial examination of what might be out there in that area begins to support the need of such a book. I would like to envision a book that would be informative for seniors in high school as they are 18 and voters, as well as university juniors and seniors as they exit their prepatory studies for professional work.

    In regard to what you write above, MD, there are many single topic books on recent American history. There are books on genderism, racism, militarism, diplomacy, labor, science/technology, or the creative arts. Many are in the framework of “Recent History of Science”, or “History of Science
    Since World War, or “African-American History in Recent America, or “The American Labor Movement, 1945-2001.” Indeed, there are many books that look at the topic you suggest of the “fall of the middle-class.” Huffington has just published a book on that topic.

    What I suggest is a broader history of the period 1945-2010 because this seems to be sorely lacking. As a college professor I was instrumental in having the department wave students re-taking survey courses in United States history, if they had a satisfactory score on an exit text. This attempt to reform student learning of American history provided only a few students testing out of a survey course. We constructed a very fair test that stressed consequences or significance of events or persons and some places. For example, “Pearl Harbor is located in California, Gulf of Mexico,
    Hawaii, Alaska, Florida?” We wrote this test for just general historical knowledge of recent high school seniors. Yet, only one, or two, or maybe three would be able to opt out.

    It seems to me this gap in United States history helps to explain why we have such large numbers accept the outregeous statements of politicians who will say whatever they need to say to keep their “job” or to get that “political job”. Therefore, a general book needs to be written, which can serve as a launch pad into more specific issues. So to speak, it needs to be written in a “dumb-down” narrative, with simple vocabulary and straight forward statements. Many pictures, graphs, and editorial cartoons.

    The book must be cost effective, not something at $80.00. Maybe some where in the $25-30 range. If there is will, there is a way. It will work…

  5. UTF, I am curious as to whether such a book would actually be able to get people past their myths. There is something reassuring about myths and simple answers. Change, on the other hand, is very frightening. The changes which are necessary in the US (and world) economies are very frightening. More so for the US, since it has been able to insulate itself from reality for so long (e.g. healthcare).

  6. My love of history was developed in 5th grade social studies. By the time I was in high school I had a very broad understanding of US history, even world history. I think you have to start earlier than high school to get people interested. I guess I was just blessed in that I had fantastic teachers in elementary school. Even in 5th grade we spent some time studying local Ohio history – The battle of fallen timbers and how it opened up Ohio to settlement. We went on a field trip and toured the battle field. You can’t imagine how upset I was when I learned they were going to build a mall over top of it. That “Pretenders” song that Limbaugh co-opted comes to mind, especially the “by a government that has no pride” line.

  7. Laci- UTF, I am curious as to whether such a book would actually be able to get people past their myths.

    Great point. I, too, wonder about that. It seems to me that, lately, these myths have become hardened ‘fact’ to many Americans and that, even if presented with evidence of the mythical nature of their ‘facts’ they would ignore the data. We apparently love our mythical lives and our folk-heroes in political office.

    UTF is more pragmatic and believes otherwise and will continue to pursue this quixotic idea.

    Steve- The battle of fallen timbers and how it opened up Ohio to settlement. We went on a field trip and toured the battle field. You can’t imagine how upset I was when I learned they were going to build a mall over top of it.

    Interesting ‘land use’ eh? Reminds me of the proposed Gettysburg Battle Site amusement park, wax museum and casino.

    It’s all about making money, Steve. Didn’t your elementary teachers teach you THAT lesson??

  8. “Great point. I, too, wonder about that.” And, I too. There is no given here. Did I say anything “as to whether such a book would actually be able to get people past their myths”? What “windmill” do you have in mind? On the contrary, this gets back to a discussion a few weeks ago about who would benefit or what group of people could be impacted by developing an organization to effect change in one particular area, such as energy, or manufacturing, or workers rights, etc. Look, I understand that some people are unreachable, they are mired in fear, in their own misguided philosophy whether that is weak government, no taxes,
    no health care, no social net of any kind, not even Bush’s “compassion” expenditures. It would be a waste of our time to try and reach that group.
    Add in the social reactionaries. Given them a great benefit of the doubt, lets say they constitute 40% of the electorate, I think the polls tell usits more in the 25 to 30% range, but lets say it is 40%, that still leaves 60% that are persuadeable. And what, 55% is a landslide victory in an election?

    “UTF is more pragmatic…… and will continue to pursue this quixotic idea.”
    Can a pragmatist be quixotic? I believe a pragmatist is one who looks for practical solutions, while quixotic means something like impracticality. What windmill am I tilting at? As educationists it seems to me that we have more credibility in that field by creating meaningful alternatives than we do walking the streets handing out a pamphlet to people that don’t want to be bothered in their “castle”. What change was effected by standing in the cold on the corners of West Central and Secor protesting a war and both wars are still killing Americans and depleting our treasury, or by standing on an overpass asking people to vote for Kerry?

    This is what I have been talking about. We have to change our rhetoric, and our method of action. As you, I have walked the streets, carried the placards, picketed the United States Court House, petitioned city councils, testified before a State legislature, journeyed to D.C. to enlighten my State Senators, served on city boards, chairman of cultural centers, and even a candidate for state representative. Been there, done that. Had some favorable outcomes, but for the most part not much changed. On reflexion, this now seems to me as the easy way out. I can say well I didn’t sit on my duff, I got up and did something. On the otherhand, there is our teaching outcomes. We read to students, worked with them, led them, and yes, we changed many of them. We made a difference.

    Of course, I’m not suggesting that we will change the mind of a Newt Gingrich or a Palin or McCain or any other others in that ilk. That would be tilting at windmills. It would be the impossible pursuit. But, yeah, I do favor William James. I think that we need a pragmatic approach to help solve our problems. We don’t need to get caught up with theory or contemplating if this or that will work. FDR is recognized as a pragmatist and he recommended “just try something, if it doesn’t work, forget it, and try something else.” We have tried “walking the streets” and many other actions. But, it seems to me, we have neglected what we have been trained to do with our graduate degrees in education, provide people with open minded pragmatism. They must have a base to begin to understand what they can do to enrich their lives and of the country.

    That base is an understanding of where the United States has been for the last 65 years. I’m not suggesting as Steve remarks about his “love of history.” As noble as that is, that notion would be “tilting at windmills”. There is not enough time to enlighten people to “love” history. The purpose of the book is to use history as a tool to re-enforce the open minded, the independent minded people, to see that the United States is under a living Constitution. They will see, and become comfortable, when they understand that President Eisenhower had no per se writing in the Constitution to build an interstate highway system. But, where did he get that authority? In the “promote the common defense” of the preamble.

    I understand the time element. My visit to the cardiologist today reminded me that the clock is running down. While he pronounced mr in good cardiac health, he hedged his report by saying that I was getting any younger. LOL, don’t we love our doctors! Don’t need two or three years writing a book, that’s unreal. Maybe we can look at this way and say the book is a prop, it provides an entry. I envisage a broad readership. You know, the conservative movement was dead in November, 1964. But, the conservatives didn’t fold up their tent and go home and suck hind tit. They began to write, and soon in the most liberal State in the Union, they elected a conservative Governor, and then in 1980 they elected that Governor the President of the United States. JFK said that the journey begins with the first step. We have tried many other ways to improve our civil future and look where we are. Lets have the “audacity” to talk about trying something else.

  9. Can a pragmatist be quixotic? Yes, the two terms can coexist. You can be pragmatic in that you want to write a book that will help educate the masses. Yet, you are quixotic in believing that people will actually change after reading the book.

    …the myth thing

  10. Can’t express how disappointed your response leaves me…In all do respect, it doesn’t seem that my rejoinder was read with an open mind. The evidence for the last 30 years suggests that progressivism cannot be successful at the ballot box or if it gets past that hurdle, it is sold out by Congress or Presidents. For years, you and I have fought the political battle within the box. It just is common sense to get out of the box and try something else.

    So, are we to leave the field to the GOP, the reactionary right, to all the programs you write daily which they support? Who is to answer them on the progressive side? Reid? Biden? Kuchinich? Who? Who is at that has any credibility with the progressives? Certainly, not Obama if you watched his town meeting yesterday as his supporters openly criticized his performance. What’s your answer? What do you suggest?

  11. I suggest the Lenin approach. Lenin drove Russia to Bolshevism by destroying the Russian economy (printing rubles) and displacing the Kulak land owners of Tsarist Russia – creating a famine. This drove the people to embrace and support the Bolsheviks. Now that is WAY extreme – but the same sort of dynamic could be employed with this election cycle. How? -By supporting incompetent republicans and tea party candidates. They’ve proven themselves incapable of governing when times are good – could you imagine them trying to govern when the body politic is down for the count? Hoovervills set the stage for 80 years of Social security. Let them hang themselves by their own petard. Look at this way. The real problem with the United States is our out of control military budget and hyper-offensive military posture around the world. We have bases on every continent; carrier battle groups sailing the 7 seas 24/7. This costs the US over 2 BILLION dollars a day. What are we getting out of those 2 BILLION dollars a day? -Certainly not security in the age of car bombs and shipping containers. We get nothing from this huge drain on the economy. Our closest potential rival is China – in a classic Nation vs Nation confrontation – and their military budget is about a 10th of our budget. It would be real interesting watching Tea partier Sara Palin explain why we have to close all those bases and mothball all those carriers while simultaneously rattling swords with Iran. I guess what I’m saying is the route to a peaceful America is a Bankrupt America. I read something that even if every entitlement was ended – the budget would still be in the red. So take all the entitlements away – and you have the 700 Billion ton elephant in the room sitting there looking pretty.

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