Monday, March 21, 2011

Urbanist Attitudes - Selling (Out) the Dream

I'm an avowed urbanist. I love living in the city and pretty much everything about it. I'm happy to gush about it at every opportunity to anyone willing to listen. From walking to bars and restaurants, to my engaged neighborhood, to our family only needing one car, there are lots of benefits to living in the city - for my family. There's the rub, for us, it works.

Most urbanists don't seem to get that last point. Urbanism works for them, but it doesn't work for everyone. I think most urbanists (myself included) would like to see the whole world move back into the city, but that simply isn't feasible. We, as urbanists, need to do a better job of selling the dream of city life. 

If you're an urbanist, have you done any of the following?
  • Made fun of the suburbs
  • Told someone from the suburbs that you think the suburbs are stupid
  • Berated the car based lifestyle to someone who lives it
  • Joked about how "there's nothing out there"
  • Asked a suburban resident: "How can you stand living there?"

If so, you're guilty of selling out the urban dream. You're just helping reinforce people's idea that the city is a place for people not like them. You're attacking one of their biggest life decisions - where to reside - right at its core. You'll never, ever, sell them on the idea of urban living with a start like that.

This blog is about the intersection between urbanism and marketing, including how we sell urban life to people who don't live it, or don't want to live it. There are benefits and drawbacks to both lifestyles. However, no good salesman starts off on the wrong foot by attacking their customers' current choices. 

My pledge is to strike those terms, ideas, and arguments from my vocabulary. To focus on the positives of urban life, and not the negatives of suburban life. To bring up the urban lifestyle, while respecting people's decisions to life a suburban life. I'd love to see you do the same.

1 comment:

  1. You are the first urbanist I have read who
    shows tolerence for those who live in subburs,
    and that is good. I grew up in the city and
    moved to the inner suburbs and would often get
    attacked by urbanists who grew up in the
    suburbs and moved to the city. I told them
    I had saved the city for them. Actually, they
    were one reason I din't mind moving out