Much like the Greek and Roman city-states that passed into the dustbins of history, the high-maintenance petroleum-based suburbs, home of the SUV with names like Pathfinder, Explorer, and Land Rover, will fade into mythology, according to the new award-winning documentary, The End of Suburbia. The title, The End of Suburbia, is a bit of a misnomer. What director Gregory Greene predicts the end of is the suburban nonsustainable bedroom developments at the core of sprawlburbia. Historically cheap energy in the form of fossil fuel represents the largest "misallocation" of resources in world history, the film argues. The documentary does an excellent job of distinguishing between various forms of sub-urbanization – a trend since factories in cities grew out of the industrial revolution following the Civil War.

At first, suburbs were just outside the central city, a la Bexley, where the upper class fled to escape the vulgarities of immigrant factory workers in the 1880s and 1890s. Then came the rise of the streetcar suburbs, like Clintonville, that were built with locally sustainable economies centered around walkable merchant storefronts. In the post-World War II economic boom came the new manufactured American Dream – think central Ohio's Whitehall – with its small ranch houses and strip malls. From that victory culture promise to returning GIs, we've seen half a century of suburban sprawl.

The thesis of The End of Suburbia is that we're already on borrowed time. The massively subsidized suburbs, particularly in a place like Columbus, Ohio, are no longer economically sustainable. The unprecedented wealthfare subsidies in the form of water and sewage extended from Columbus to the suburbs, the highways and freeways that allow the wasteful commuting, the tax-subsidized sprawling malls that everyone has to drive to, are all doomed, according to The End of Suburbia.

The documentary does a good job of deconstructing the promise of suburban life: a false sense of country living; a cherished place to breed and raise a family; and the status of middle-class American acceptance.

A key point emphasized by the film is the coming turmoil that will result not just economically but politically when the concept of suburban living so deeply embedded in the American psyche becomes no longer affordable.

The suburbs, with all their allure to middle America, are inseparable from the American Dream. The documentary warns of the demise of McHouses, and points out that it was always a false American dream if you lived on a street named "Elk Ridge" that simply identified what ecology was destroyed to build the housing development.

As one of the numerous, but interesting talking heads, Richard Heinberg points out with brutal honesty, suburbanites have come to accept that it is their inalienable right to live "miles and miles from where they work." But also, to believe it's their birthright to live in a cul-de-sac without sidewalks with an entitlement to drive to chain stores that have paved over green space and shop at globalized giant square compounds like Wal-Mart and Lowe's.

In the beginning, developers built light-rail systems so that suburbanites could efficiently commute to central city jobs. But the fossil fuel trilogy of General Motors, Firestone and Standard Oil conspired to destroy mass transit and create a car culture built around profit for their multinational corporations. Politicians across the country following the election money accepted this car culture of the 50s and 60s flourishing on a quarter a gallon gasoline.

The talking heads all agree on one thing: that world oil production has peaked and that the cost of producing fossil fuel will grow dramatically. Interestingly, Matthew Simmons, one of the world's leading energy investment bankers, provides a sobering assessment of our need for alternative energy.

The documentary's discussion on what the United States must do in terms of public policy and the implications to life in sprawlburbia make this movie necessary viewing for anyone concerned about the future of our nation and our legendary central Ohio suburban paradises.

There are different paths we could go which are openly discussed in the film. There is the neo-conservative (neocon) dream of "Full Spectrum Dominance" of the world's energy supplies through war and occupation of developing countries. There is the burgeoning "new urbanism" and "suburban town planning" movements that are already beginning to re-make suburban life so that residents can "live more locally" by actually walking to buy goods and services.

Those suburbs that do not reintegrate themselves into local markets, the film predicts, will be "the slums of the future."

The film will be shown during the Chris Awards on November 12.

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