Radiant City


I rarely watch movies now.

Even when I had the time and inclination to do so, there were few I was interested in and even fewer that I connected with. Perhaps as a medium, movies and I don’t jibe.

That said, I was intrigued by Radiant City after reading a reviews of it in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and National Post. The tagline “A Documentary About Suburban Sprawl” hooked me. Instantly. Urban sprawl and its associated health, environmental and social costs trouble me…anger me…greatly, but I rarely allow myself to voice the depth of my feelings. I’ve come to understand that suburbia is part and parcel of the North American ideal. It is the North American ideal.

“it’s easier to build a community in 8 years than unbuild it in 20”

Brampton – the Canadian city I’ve grown up in – is the brutal landscape referred to in the trailer.’Getting around’ is ‘driving’. Sprawling developments with evocative names – “The Estates of Castlemore”, “Fletcher’s Meadow” – pave over some of the best farmland in Ontario. And every time I return another lush, green field is brown, grass and trees scoured for a new set of foundations.

I don’t see any way out. As Edward Keenan pointed out in the Spring ’07 issue of Spacing, “it’s easier to build a community in eight years than it is to unbuild it in 20.” Brampton’s been building for over two decades. It’s still building.

If we want to improve our health, reduce our environmental impact and lower our infrastructure costs, the suburban model isn’t sustainable. How long do we have to hear this same message before it sinks in? I don’t know, but consider the trailer another reminder…

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