The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome by John F. Wasik

Subtitled “Turning Around the Unsustainable American Dream,” this book analyzes the housing crisis and reflects upon ways that America can move forward with affordable, environmentally sustainable architecture.

The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome is a good companion piece to James Howard Kunstler’s A Geography of Nowhere. Author John F. Wasik offers a cogent overview of the current housing crisis along with an analysis of the unsustainability of the current fads in American housing. He explains trends in environmentally conscious architecture and building, and offers his ideas about what it will take to put the American dream back to rights.

I was most interested by his discussion of “spurbs,” housing clusters that are not connected to a metropolitan area, offer no public transportation, are not walkable, and are interspersed with strip malls and shopping centers. I grew up in a suburb of Baltimore and now I live in Queens, NY, so I’m not intimately familiar with these areas. They sound like nowhere I’d want to live. I love what I read about the New Urbanism, one of whose central tenets is “get people outside.” I love that I can walk everywhere–sure, it’s a 30 minute walk to the park but that’s great exercise, and it’s so fun to bump into people I know along the way.

2 thoughts on “The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome by John F. Wasik”

  1. Thanks for your review. I hope that readers will discuss the ideas in the book and see it through the lenses of economics and ecology. Sustainability makes economic sense! Homes can be made cheaper while they are made greener. Communities can be rebuilt, even in the wake of the housing debacle. Even “spurbs” can be connected to job centers with more public transportation. Walkability means better health and stronger communities. It’s a win-win proposal for America, but one that our leaders need to endorse if we’re to make progress in this century. Think globally. Act locally.

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