Shifting Gears

Today I watched the documentary “Sprawling From Grace,” and the main subject is the great changes about to happen and already occurring because of our oil dependency and the lack of easily recoverable oil. The focus in politics has often been that we can find alternative energy sources to fuel our automobile infrastructure. This ideology fails to recognize that this will potentially take decades and we don’t have the time to make that shift.

We need to continue preparing for a world where oil is expensive and not readily available. Our cities cannot sustain a sprawled infrastructure and we must build attractive housing near transit in all of our cities. The biggest unintended consequence of this has been gentrification, which I have seen at an alarming rate in Brooklyn.

The remedy to this is people-first planning that involves community before any construction commences. We have all the necessary knowledge of how to build beautiful places while also respecting current tenants.

Luckily we are seeing a revitalization of many U.S. cities. Young and old alike are showing with their living choices that they want to be in walkable, bikeable, and transit friendly places where the car is less needed.

I am one of those people, and I realize that a big part of this is my social-class privilege. I have the choice to live where I want in New York City, unlike most. Why not give this ease of choice to all citizens here? Let’s have housing vouchers where lower-income residents have the same renting power as middle- and upper-income people. “Affordable housing” often results in ugly and stigmatized buildings in this country. Let’s make beautiful housing that is accessible to everyone.

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