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It would take perhaps an apocalypse to break us out of these deep, psychological and cultural patterns, even if that were a good thing. However, Archer does see change:
... [A]s we look to the future, suburbia is evolving in three key directions — not incidentally, along the same paths already being paved by global capitalism; suburbia will be flexible, it will be smarter, and it will be hybrid.
That evolutionary change is already noted. Here you can see it in Bellevue, as it is the most rapidly densifying city in the county and outstripping Seattle in the percentage of minority population. Suburban towns throughout the region are becoming more classically urban: gay friendly, transit friendly, etc. In Pugetopolis, the city and suburb are meeting in the middle somewhere, but that's a national trend, too.
According to Alan Berube, research director and fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, the suburbs are not the new ghost towns. On the contrary, they are durable and will continue to grow and evolve:
... [T]he nation will need to accommodate at least another 100 million people during this period, and not even $10-per-gallon gas will send the majority of Americans scrambling back to cities. But 'suburbia' will be an even less useful descriptor in 2050 for the diverse range of communities in which the majority of Americans will continue to live.
Berube says the burbs will be more walkable, more diverse, poorer (already more than half of the metropolitan poor in America live outside the city proper), and more diverse. He thinks they will have to become less self-focused and more regionally minded to solve problems, like transportation. He envisions better governance and more collaboration.
One thing Berube hopes is that we might get beyond the Manichaeism of the suburban debate:
'Suburbia' is an oppositional concept — in Latin, it's literally 'under city.' But as the people and places that define suburbia look more and more like those we associate with the city, and less and less like one another — in 40 years perhaps we'll get beyond our fixation with 'the suburbs' (love them or hate them) and develop a richer vocabulary for what lies beyond the city limits.
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