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Activist to Speak on Suburban Woes

The American dream of suburbia is running out of road —at least according to Benjamin Ross, a Maryland-based author and transit activist. He will tackle this issue and more when he comes to town to speak on May 4, exactly two days after his latest book, Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism, hits the shelves.

“The suburban value system that people used to assume was a superior way of living has reached a dead end,” says Ross. “It’s no longer a status symbol to have a lawn and a car.”

Ross says he will discuss his new book and how it deals with the situation created by the post-WWII trend of middle class families moving away from urban areas and into the chaotic ring of the suburbs. He will touch on how this trend, through bad planning and shoddy architecture, has led to modern realities like strip malls and traffic nightmares. 

This phenomenon of sprawl and urban movement is evident all across the nation, including in Eugene, where there are transit disputes over the EMX, gentrification fears in the Whiteaker and new high rise apartment buildings springing up like weeds near the UO campus.

Ross will also provide an analysis of contemporary planning and suggestions for how to effect change in the modern age because suburbanization “affects the way we live; people get stuck in a rut and have to get in a car for everything that they do. There’s nothing but parking garages and malls,” he says. “There’s a lot of interest out there on how do we fix our cities.”

Ross’ free talk will take place 4 pm Sunday, May 4, at Cozmic, 199 W. 8th Ave.