Sustainability in the Capital Region

kunstler bio photoUrban planning expert/critic James Howard Kunstler will be talking about sustainability in the Capital Region February 10 as part of the Stakeholders' Sustainable Communities Institute.

Kunstler, who lives in Saratoga, was recently ranked #12 all-time on a list of urban thinkers. He has strong opinions about what makes sustainable communities -- and doesn't hesitate to share them. His books mourn the effects of urban sprawl and warn of future catastrophe. As part of the "Eyesore of the Month" feature on his web site, he recently wrote of the St. Louis train station: "... an utterly bewildering piece-of-sh*t shoehorned under a bunch of freeway ramps behind a UPS depot parking lot. Where's the Prozac dispenser?" And on his podcast, he more-or-less jumped Harry Tutunjian about the redevelopment of Troy's city hall.

All this is to say the talk will probably not be boring. It starts at 6 pm on February 10 at the Opalka Gallery on the Albany campus of the Sage Colleges. It's free -- but you have to RSVP by February 3: sustainability@thestakeholders.org.

photo via JHK

Comments

Even when I agree with Kunstler I don't like him. To me he comes off as just plain mean spirited.

Stakeholders? Sounds like a resume booster...

@Eric,

I've been hosting a weekly podcast with JHK for a few years now and I work with him on various projects. So I've slowly gotten to know him a little better over time.

He's a critic when it comes down to it and he naturally attracts a lot of criticism of himself. I've heard other people say that he comes off as mean spirited, so you're definitely not alone in feeling that. I can see why some folks feel that way. But I think JHK is justified in much of his outrage and I share many of those feelings myself. He is also very kind and compassionate in a lot of respects and I think some of his critics overlook that.

When it really comes down to it, JHK is a wordsmith with a great grasp on language. He went to college to study theater -- not urban planning or sociology -- and his presentation (e.g. TED, Colbert) is really quite theatrical. He's also pretty funny, though he does have a somewhat dark sense of humor. One of his favorite quotes is from Samuel Beckett: "Nothing is funnier than unhappiness."

On another note, I've been subtly trying to get Kunstler to retire that bow tie photo. Here's a more recent photo my cousin took of JHK. Whaddya think?

http://kunstlercast.com/images/JamesHowardKunstler_by_CalCrary.jpg

I agree with Duncan. Kunstler is quite theatrical (I’ve seen him speak several times and casually follow the podcast and his blog). I’ve heard many say that he’d do better for the cause if he weren’t so acerbic. But I disagree. I think if he watered down his approach, he wouldn’t get any attention at all. To me, his harsh sense of humor is a non-issue—first, because he is quite funny; second, because there isn’t a credibility issue here. He knows his stuff and he is spot on about the tragedy that is our built environment.

As Duncan and Karl note, part of Kunstler's appeal is in the delivery of his message (aka, his theatricality). Social commentators don't mince words (Frank Zappa comes to mind), though they might use ironic devices like satire.

From what I can tell, Kunstler's message is as much derived from cherishing (without sentimentality) a certain vision of/for America as it is about critiquing a differing vision of America.

I may not agree with everything Kunstler has to say, but he certainly adds value to the conversation about what is wrong with our community landscapes.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

A quick recap of the week

Here are a few highlights from the past week on AOA: + Christine asked about bachelorette party ideas in downtown Troy. + We took a... (more)

In no more than 10 words

Long story short (because that's the point here): We had a chance to stop in to the Next Door Kitchen & Bar in Ballston Spa... (more)

"Very dramatic and a hell of a conversation piece!"

Currently listed on Albany Craigslist: "Electric Chair - $325" -- "Great for any "Man Cave", Bar, Fraternity or club house. Of course this is not... (more)

Stuff to do this weekend

Things should start to dry out just in time for this pre-Halloween weekend. And there's plenty to do, from haunted hayrides, scary movies and harvest... (more)

Morning Blend

Gabriel Vega -- accused of killing Vanessa Milligan in Lansingburgh this past April -- was arraigned on charges that included murder, abortion, and arson. The... (more)

Recent Comments

... Let's also lower the city speed limit to 25 while we're at it. Maybe then these morons will not go 45 miles an hour down Washington Avenue. Why should cities surrender themselves to the automobile and automobile drivers? - the very forces that killed cities to begin with. ...

In no more than 10 words

...has 5 comments, most recently from Jess

Poking at some numbers for New York school districts, graduation rates, and income

...has 6 comments, most recently from Paul

"Very dramatic and a hell of a conversation piece!"

...has 2 comments, most recently from Barold

Favorite fall hikes?

...has 16 comments, most recently from Tess

Albany Common Council passes red light camera ordinance: comments, votes, thoughts

...has 36 comments, most recently from -B