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“I think you could create a popular sentiment that says 'How long does it take to get your kid to little league?' (Underdome Interview) 

Vishaan Chakrabarti

"How do you hit people at their most fundamental day-to-day issues, as opposed to having everything be at the ethereal level of policy? People are sick of the traffic. They're sick of that particular lifestyle." (Underdome Interview) 

While suburbia might seem to be a place for privacy and individual freedom, Chakrabarti points to the loss of free time created by congested highways and overdependence on the car.  

"There was a period in the ‘60s going through the ‘80s when people treasured their time in their car. It was the pre-Starbucks “Third Place” where you weren't at home and you weren't at work, and you actually had this time to yourself. And I think people for a while really treasured that, until it just got out of control and started impacting people's quality of life.  ... If you watch Mad Men, it always amazes me when they're in their cars. They're always free flowing. There's this freedom to the way they drive. Don Draper has his elbow on the window, and he's driving like this, and there's never traffic, and they’re just moving along. It's just fundamentally different than the experience of driving in America in 2010, where you almost don't get to experience that anywhere except for maybe in the open roads of the West.... 

"There is a tremendous sense of this in the American psyche that's very strong and can't and shouldn't be undone. And it has to do with a belief in this kind of freedom where you can get in a car and go anywhere. And that no train line, no set of airports, no anything is dictating your final destination. And I actually think there's a real power to that, and that's important for people to understand as they start talking about this. I think if there isn't enough sympathy and sensitivity to it... Because it's part of what makes the country amazing. If you drive in the western part of the country especially, there's no other way to do that. You can't walk it, you can't sail it, you can't train it. There are certain things about that I think are valuable and go to the core of who we are as Americans.

"The problem is that you can't possibly equate that experience to commuting in downtown Atlanta. Those two experiences are radically different, and they need to be disassociated from each other. The notion of that ability to get in your car and go somewhere is just so different than what most Americans do or ever get to do. I mean, how many people who own minivans and live in the suburbs ever drive cross-country? I mean, people don't do that. So I think it's important to create these distinctions. When I talk about this, I'm not trying to strip away Americans’ ability to be free in their own country. To me, this is more free because it means that if you own a car you’re actually going to be on a clearer road and actually able to get where you’re going in a different way....
 
"We also live incredibly stressful lives in America. We have a higher proportion of two-income families. We have kids who are wildly overscheduled. You have this situation where you've got families with enormous amounts of their lives are spent in traffic.  When you have that situation, what are both the quantitative and qualitative losses that occur from that situation? There's a quantitative loss in terms of workers who could be at work, children who could be at school, people doing more productive things than sitting in a car. There's a qualitative loss in terms of just quality of life. It's that much more time you get to spend with your child or your spouse. It's that much more time that you get to do something other than being in your car." Underdome Interview
 
"My litmus test [for density] is 'Do people have to get in their car to get a quart of milk?"  Underdome Interview
 
 

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Comments (2726)

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