Urban Sprawl: A Growing Problem
Urban sprawl is a form of unplanned urban and suburban development that takes place over a large area and creates a low-density environment with a high segregation between residential and commercial areas with harmful impacts on the people living in these areas. It is becoming a major issue in many cities around the United States. Problems include increased strain on transport infrastructure, social segregation leading to increased crime, and decreased political participation. In this article, we dig into the causes of urban sprawl, explain some of its problems, and look at possible solutions.
What is Urban Sprawl?
Urban sprawl is a form of urban growth in which low-density development (such as single-family homes) of large plots of land takes place over a large area, sometimes extending for miles outside of the urban limits. It is also called suburban sprawl, metropolitan sprawl, and suburbanization.
Urban sprawl is a very common type of development in the United States and many other countries around the world. It is a product of the policy of physical planning for the past 200 years that promoted the development of urban areas along public transportation routes. These areas were designed to be self-sufficient, with access to necessary services such as schools and hospitals.
Urban sprawl is often seen as a problem in many parts of the world. It has been criticized for its numerous negative effects on the environment, social life, and economy of cities and the countries they reside in.
The Emergence of Urban Sprawl
Urban sprawl started with the industrial revolution in the 19th century, when the economic and population growth facilitated the migration of people from rural to urban areas. The newly arrived people moved into the city centers, and the areas surrounding the cities were used for agriculture and other industrial activities.
The private car became popular in the early 1900s and contributed to the growing popularity of suburban development. At the same time, the United States and the United Kingdom expanded their road networks. This helped the development of suburbs.
In the post-war era, the expansion of transport systems continued, but this time the suburbs were more accessible to the people who wanted to live there. The automobile industry also developed rapidly, which allowed the construction of larger homes and the accessibility of goods and services.
Since the 1970s, the number of people living in the suburbs has increased dramatically, and urban sprawl has become a major issue in many countries around the world.
The Effects of Urban Sprawl
Urban sprawl is a common type of development that has many negative effects on the environment, social life, and economy of cities. Let’s take a closer look at these three effects.
The development of urban sprawl increases the need for transport and reduces the land available for agriculture. This leads to more pollution from transport and, according to the data, more food being imported from other countries. This increases the risk of transporting dangerous substances and the risk of importing food that is not produced to the high standards required in the United States and other developed countries.
Social Life and Economy
Urban sprawl has a negative impact on the social life of residents. A lack of public places such as parks and playgrounds limits the opportunities for residents to meet each other and interact. This can lead to social segregation, and the people living in these areas can become disengage from the rest of the community.
Urban sprawl also has a negative effect on the economy of cities. Many people prefer to live in suburbs, but they have to travel to the city center for work. This leads to increased traffic congestion and higher levels of pollution. There is also a high demand for parking spaces in the city centers, which places a strain on the land available for other uses.
Urban sprawl makes it difficult for people from different areas to participate in the democracy of our country. Communities becomes segregated, and develop local norms and beliefs that fail to be properly integrated into broader society, and fail to be properly recognized by our elected officials.
The Way Forward
Urban sprawl is a common type of development, and we don’t necessarily need to discount it completely. There are many solutions to help reduce its negative effects on our society. Let’s take a look at a few of the most effective solutions:
1. Improve and Reduce the Need for Transport
Reducing the need for transport is one of the most effective solutions to reduce the negative effects of urban sprawl. Cities should build public transportation systems that help people get to the city center efficiently. They should also build communities that are close to the employment centers. There are many ways to reduce the need for transport, such as making cities more walkable, building more cycle tracks, and improving public transportation.
2. Limit the Use of Private Cars
Limiting the use of private cars and expanding public transportation systems is another way to reduce urban sprawl. This will help reduce the strain on transport infrastructure and reduce the amount of pollution. When combined with effective transportation networks, it promotes social integration and reduces pollution.
3. Provide More Public Spaces
Providing more public spaces will help to create a sense of community and reduce instances of social segregation. These types of public spaces include parks, playgrounds, and community centers. They also allow residents to get to know each other and form stronger social networks.
4. Build Communities, Not Houses
Building communities involves more than just building new houses. It involves building places where residents can meet each other and interact. This starts from the developments themselves. When I lived in North Carolina, I noticed a lot of Charlotte condos successfully fostering this sense of community, but I haven’t seen it much in bigger US cities. Developers should be aware of their social responsibilities prior to starting any housing projects.
5. Build Affordable Housing
Cities should provide affordable housing options that are close to the city center. This will reduce the amount of time that people spend traveling to and from work, and it will reduce the amount of traffic congestion in the city center. One of the biggest drivers of urban sprawl is the demand for low-cost housing, and the planning of these developments often neglects long-term social externalities.
Urban sprawl has become a major issue in many countries around the world. It has many negative effects on the environment, social life, and economy of cities. It is also a major problem when it comes to political participation in the community.
There are many solutions that can help to reduce the negative effects of urban sprawl. Some of these solutions include improving and reducing the need for transport, limiting the use of private cars, providing more public spaces, building communities rather than houses, and providing affordable housing in the city center. These ideas should be enacted in the planning process for future developments to ensure social harmony and security in the long-term.
Political Movements in America
Let’s take a look into the (relatively) short history of American politics, since settlement by the British. We’ll cover north america before it federated into the union of the United States, as well as the resulting two-party system,it’s victories and it’s flaws. This should be an eye opening read for you, and whether you’re currently a Republican or Democrat, you may find that these groups are just passing trends, lines drawn in sand, rather than opposing forces of nature that have stood for all of time.
Before the united states of america
Before the union formed in the year 1776, there were already a number of political movements that shaped the way the nation would look. Let’s examine them now.
The colonial period
We’ll start with the colonial period. The early colonies were largely divided along political lines. There were a lot of settlers from England, and of course, they brought their political views with them. These political views largely influenced the way the colonies governed themselves. To simplify, let’s say that the political views took the form of groups; there were two major groups, the Federalists, and the Anti-Federalists.
The Federalists supported the constitution, and wanted the federal government to have more power over the states. The Anti-Federalists were a loose affiliation of smaller groups; they didn’t have a unified opinion on the constitution at first. They were against what they saw as a powerful federal government. They wanted to preserve the rights of the states. But with the passage of the constitution, this group slowly disappeared and morphed into other conservative political beliefs.
What’s important about these groups is that they were divided along geographic lines too. The Federalists were largely from the north and east, and were involved in shipping, manufacturing and trade. The Anti-Federalists were almost entirely southerners, and were farmers. Even after the constitution was ratified, there was still a lot of disagreement between these two groups, continuing to this day.
The newly united states
The two party system has some great strengths and some great weaknesses. Democracy isn’t perfect, but it’s the best system that there is. Trump aside, the republicans and democrats are able to respect each other well enough to pass laws, fund public projects, protect the nation, and serve as leaders. Let’s look at some advantages of the two party system. The first advantage is that there will always be a dissenting voice to every idea or method proposed by one party: no wild scheme can be cooked up and passed without opposition, which is a huge advantage for the people of this country, over dictatorships and single-party countries. Just think, would you want to have a child or start a new business if you weren’t sure that predictable and calm people were in charge? If they kept wildly changing surprising new laws every year? It’s hard to imagine it, living in america. Secondly, the two-party system has an advantage when it comes to elections. Candidates from a party can take votes from all over the country and vote-share their way to victory in the general election. If there were only one party, then whoever won their party’s primary would be the only candidate. This would make elections less interesting, to say the least. Thirdly, by having two parties, there is always a chance that one party will appeal to both the left and right wings of politics. This makes them more likely to win elections, and more likely to compromise and arrive at a solution that is the best for the most number of people, rather than just the half of the people that they agree with.
The two-party system isn’t perfect. But it’s the best system that we have right now. Acknowledging that, let’s look at some of it’s flaws. Firstly, the two party system is less diverse than it could be. The big issues are the ones being focused on the most, and the minor issues are not covered as much. There’s only so much a big party can focus on. While there are many smaller parties in the United States, but they are not nearly as influential as the two major parties. And while there are some people who vote for a third party candidate on the general election ballot, they haven’t won in recent history, and are unlikely to, for the foreseeable future. This means that diverse issues are not focused on by the voters, and so are left somewhat unaddressed.
The minor parties in the united states are less prominent and less well-known than in other countries (such as in Europe). The reason for this is complicated and mechanical, mostly related to the mechanism of how votes are counted. Essentially, it means that people who vote for a third party waste their vote if their party does not win, meaning that there is a strong incentive for voters to vote for either of the two major parties only. Hence the name, “The Two Party System”. Examples of minor parties include the Libertarian Party, the Socialist Worker’s Party, and of course the Legal Marijuana Now Party. Often, smaller parties have less expansive and more focused policies and philosophies, focused on a few key issues (such as women’s rights and pay only, or cannabis in San Francisco). The motivating reason for these highly specific party stances is that many voters have limited attention span, and can more readily identify with a single policy that they strongly agree with, rather than expending effort into researching the detailed and lengthy policies of a particular party ahead of time. Many voters are only aware of a party’s existence for the first time when reading their ballot sheet, and as such, the party name is all the information that they have to go on. In spite of these challenges, minor parties to manage to collect a small number of votes during elections.
The United States is a true democracy, and in it’s 230 years of existence it has seen many political movements come and go. It has seen two world wars, the cold war, and a great depression. It’s gone from having a small population to having one of the largest populations on earth, and one of the largest economies on earth. It’s seen the rise and fall of many political movements, of which the two party system is only the latest, but the best we have found on earth so far.
Marketing Gone Wrong: A Tech Perspective
While I’m mainly studying tech, using tech, configuring tech, and writing about tech, I do occasionally have some interesting thoughts about business, and how people could use tech better to help their business. I wrote this article to talk about some of the insights I’ve had into the mistakes small businesses make when trying to market themselves online. I also go into some alternatives that work well for small businesses trying to get more customers. Let’s go over those common mistakes first.
Cart before the horse
One of the most common mistakes that I see small businesses making, when trying to grow, is that they mistakenly view ‘doing marketing’ as its own activity, that they “should” be doing, for its own sake. I know that many people with a tech background like me can also fall into this trap, so I hope to clear this up. To give a great example, I often see a billboard in town, for an auto repair shop, that is eye grabbing (nice visual design, in my opinion), but the big text at the bottom of the billboard (the action that the business wants the reader to take) is somehow “Give us a like on Facebook!”, instead of “Call us today to fix your car”. Do you see what I mean? The objective of doing marketing is to get more customers, not to get Facebook likes. The cart has been put before the horse in this case. Getting lots of Facebook likes is a side-effect of having lots of people visiting your business and being happy with the resulting product or service. That auto shop is most probably going to spend a lot of money getting people to like them on Facebook, but they’re not going to get as many new customers as they could have. So keep it simple! Just focus on getting more (real) customers, when you’re trying to “do marketing”. The rest of the details don’t matter if you’re making money.
As a tech writer, I think I can understand how this mistaken mentality comes about. The problem is that the business owner is highly skilled and experienced in their field (in this example, car repair), and they have a good sense for business in general (they’re making enough money to spend on advertising), but as soon as they encounter “computers” (containing the smaller sub-topic of “social media”), they panic. The same business owner that would never do anything without having a well defined business objective, and a detailed plan to achieve it, suddenly has no idea how to proceed. So they engage a “marketing agency” who does not understand their business.
Part of the problem is that they’re not tech people, and they don’t understand what actually happens when they do “social media marketing”. They think they’re just publishing a page on Facebook, and if it gets a lot of “likes”, then that’s a good thing. They don’t understand that the only reason people will “like” their page is if those people are already interested in their type of business, and that they’re interested in the exact thing that they’re promoting. They don’t understand that they’re actually doing a type of advertising, where they’re using a particular platform to get a message out to a particular audience. What I’m trying to say is that with a little experience, and a lot of patience, you can learn how to do this kind of marketing (and all types of marketing), and that it’s really not that hard, but you do have to understand what you’re actually doing. Just like tech! You don’t need to be an experienced Azure system administrator who lives in Visual Studio to figure out how to use Windows. You just need to keep a clear head about what you’re trying to achieve.
Let’s dive into another example. The difference between paying Google to show your website to customers (as a paid ad), versus just getting your website to come up when people are searching for it, is huge. One is expensive, and might not even be shown to the right person. The other is free, and is targeting exactly the right kind of person who is searching for you. Let’s break this mistake down: small business owners put a little bit of money into google ads, and see a couple of customers come out of it. “Great!” they think. “All I have to do is pour lots of money into this and I’ll have lots of new customers!”. But it doesn’t work, and they have wasted their money. Why? Because google shows the ads to the right people to start with, then when they run out, it shows the ad to the wrong people. The majority of people who end up visiting the website from ads are not going to buy anything from that business. The only way to target the right people is to get your website results in google searches.
What’s the difference? Google ads cost money. Google search doesn’t. It’s the same amount of work to run a google search campaign as it is to build a website, and get it to rank highly for a keyword (Note, however, you can speed that process up if you have your keyword already and decide to buy backlinks) In any case, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get started. You just need to do some research to find out who you’re targeting.
Marketing is not a thing unto itself. Social media is not success, it’s a side effect of people in your business making money, and being able to reinvest that money in your company to get more customers, not to invest it in social media. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get started, but you do need to understand what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it.