No More Barbecue

Joel Garreau, who memorably encapsulated the life of the outer suburbs in the 1992 book Edge City: Life on the New Frontier, has found yet another ...
by | July 31, 2006

Virginia Joel Garreau, who memorably encapsulated the life of the outer suburbs in the 1992 book Edge City: Life on the New Frontier, has found yet another new frontier to write about. His article in Sunday's Washington Post about how "sophisticates" are bringing bistro lifestyle delights to rural central Virginia is one of the best pieces I've seen on the demographics of telecommuting.

Garreau devotes much of the long article to mini-profiles of people -- the actor Robert Duvall, the guy who runs the Democratic Leadership Council Web site -- who have the ability to take their jobs with them to the outback.

The most interesting point, from a policy standpoint, is the argument that these areas are thriving because they skipped 20th century industrialization. They did well in agricultural times, but then skipped having factories and cul-de-sacs, preserving 50-acre spreads that appeal to affluent New Economy workers.

"This is not suburbanization," Garreau writes. "Quite the opposite. A lack of development increases these property values." As a result, he is able to quote a real estate broker as saying that the Piedmont Environment Council "is my friend."

The most recent Economist, incidentally, has a feature about suburban developments in England that are denser and more compact, principles long championed by Prince Charles.

Photo via Flickr, from DSutherland.