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.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

Search

Recently on All Over Albany

Today's moment of fenestration

Walking up State Street today near Pearl Street. There's a spot where the view of the window grid on the building there just... well, it... (more)

Why does no one ever ask where downstate starts?

More fodder for the great debate our time: The Washington Post's Philip Bump collected survey data about "where does Upstate New York begin." There are... (more)

The Bites Camera Action film series is returning to downtown Albany this summer in a new location

The Bites Camera Action movie series is set return to downtown Albany in July. And this time around the movies will be shown on the... (more)

Stuff to do this weekend

Alright, you've all seen the long range forecast, so let's all get together and decide we're going to ignore Mother Nature until she gets onboard... (more)

Cynthia Nixon on The Late Show

Cynthia Nixon was on The Late Show last night talking with Stephen Colbert about her run for governor. The 10-minute segment is embedded above if... (more)

Recent Comments

... Also I would try a Tux shop. They do measurements for other tux shops all the time (for free), it's an industry courtesy. Waldorf Tux shop (Lark St) is an independently owned, "old school" tux shop--real sense of proper fitting---not just taking the "closest size" from the rack. ...

The new season of the CDPHP Cycle bike share has started up

...has 3 comments, most recently from Steve

Where to donate a virtually new mattress?

...has 9 comments, most recently from Elisabeth

Morning Blend for Apr 19

...has 2 comments, most recently from Mary

Reaching for a new way of picking up recycling

...has 7 comments, most recently from Tracey

Lawn treatment company suggestions?

...has 3 comments, most recently from Diana