Sprawling from Grace

Part Three

Sprawling from Grace is a documentary analyzing the impacts of suburban sprawl and the negative implications it has on the lives of Americans. In this documentary, tens of experts are interviewed and their views recorded with regard to the dangers of investing in development as currently constituted. The film provides compelling evidence for changing the current course of development as is being carried out within the cities. Indeed, the film suggests that continued investment in a similar fashion would deplete the remaining wealth of the US. The depletion of fossil fuel is thoroughly explored and its impeding impacts on the living arrangement through air and water pollution. Further, the film explicitly exploits the viability of potential alternatives to energy provision. The concept of suburbia has created host of unintended problems for the American people by resulting into unlivable consequences. In raising these arguments, the documentary concludes that the way of life of the American people is in peril owing to the dependence on fossil fuel in developing suburban America.

The arguments laid out in the film are nothing short of factual and have been supported by the group members in the discussion. The film argues that the reliance on fossil fuel in leading development has resulted in unintended consequences including air and water pollution. Indeed, this is true not only for America but the entire planet, something the group finds to be true. The arguments laid out in the film are highly convincing especially coming from more than thirty experts. In fact, arguments in this film are supported by the observed shift in transport infrastructure from road development to the establishment of rapid transit systems in cities. The current rates of pollution in American cities have exceeded historical levels leading to calls by environmental activists for a ban on fossil fuel. In fact, most cities within the US are now shifting towards the use of greener forms of energy in a bid to reverse the negative consequences of fossil fuel dependence.

The documentary does not dwell on the problems facing the country but offers solutions to the urban sprawl. One of the most radical propositions is the shift from fossil fuel dependence to the greener alternatives of energy including solar and wind power. Also, the film proposes the use of better transport avenues such as rapid transit systems and light rail in replacing the current road transportation method.  By providing these alternatives and highlighting the dangers of continuing with the current model of development, the film helps in trying to solve the problems identified. Overall, the film proposes that the suburban model of development should be replaced to rid the cities of pollution and dependence on fossil fuel. Indeed, the solutions proposed in the documentary are convincing and workable as they are geared towards a better America for all. The group is equally satisfied with the solutions proposed in the film in relation to the urban sprawl that has faced America. Particularly, the emphasis of greener energy generation methods is interesting for its potential to decrease pollution in the cities.


Part Four

The different aspects of this assignment are highly related in their approaches and concepts. Ideally, the film, discussion and articles all have a direct influence on the course themes studied in class. It is interesting that each of these subsets of study helped in the understanding of other subsets by drawing inferences from each other. The course themes are intertwined between the subjects of urbanization, development and cities. Consequently, the resultant urban sprawl is an important theme whose study is important in understanding the current situation facing America and the entire globe. The readings from the articles were a great addition to the film as they explored similar concepts and ideas thus enhancing the understanding of course themes taught in class. The theme of urban sprawl feature among the different media of learning including the film, articles as well as the discussion. A larger chunk of the discussion was dedicated to the problem of urban sprawl and how cities development and urbanization can be changed to avoid its occurrence.

The film is critical of the continued dependence on fossil fuel in driving development and urbanization in cities. The negative consequences that are associated with this outcome are widely discussed in the film and propositions made. Similarly, our discussion was focused on the dangers of urban sprawl and the viability of available alternatives. The articles are also critical of fossil dependent development for its capacity to pollute the environment as has been the case in different cities. Although the film is focused on America, the articles explore a wider region by covering different cities in the world. Our discussion incorporated examples of cities that are implementing some of the propositions suggested in the film. Ultimately, the contents of our discussion appear to be synchronous with the contents of the articles and the film. It is as if all the three were written from a single script. However, it is the universality of the problem that is most worrying and that has resulted in the homogeneity of the three platforms.

The themes, concepts and ideas discussed by the group resonate with those discussed in the film as well as in the four articles. The theme of urbanization and urban sprawl was particularly prevalent in the discussion thereby providing better insights into the theme. Also, pollution was largely discussed by the group and especially air and water pollution. Indeed, the biggest concern of development and urbanization is pollution and sustainability of the cities. The use of fossil fuel is no longer sustainable in the world and better alternatives must be sought if the world desires to live in a world that is free from pollution. Our discussion on sustainability was important in helping in the understanding of sustainable development, a concept that was taught in class. Moreover, most of the ideas discussed in the group including urbanization, development and urban sprawl were resonant with the course themes. The discussion project was therefore beneficial to my understanding of the course themes as well as the different concepts and ideas relating to urbanization and development of cities both bin America and in the world.

Part Five

The four articles are based on the solution of urban sprawls and the use of smart methods in ensuring sustainable development of cities. In Behan et al (2008), smart growth strategies in city transportation are explored with regard to their potential to solve urban sprawl. The article uses the case of Hamilton to approximate the benefits of smart ideas of tackling urban sprawl. Our discussion was focused on the propositions made in the film, including the shift in transportation avenues. These strategies are also discussed in the article as well as in Charmes & Keil (2015) using the case studies of France and Canada. In the next article, the sprawls in Toronto are explored historically with a view to establishing the reasons for their establishments (Solomon, 2007). The discussion is based on the solution proposed in the film and includes the shift from fossil dependent developments. Similarly, these articles are based on these solutions and the knowledge from the film and the discussion provides better insights. Consequently, the study of these articles is made easier and more comprehensible through the knowledge attained from the discussion and the film.

Prior to the reading of these articles, my understanding of the solution to sprawling and their historical development was faint. In fact, I never understood why the problem of sprawling caused so much concern among the experts. Also, my understanding on greener methods of production and transportation was not as polished as it is now following the reading of the articles. I am now more adept at such issues of sustainability, pollution control and urbanization partly due to the knowledge imparted by the four articles. Although I knew that fossil fuel is not renewable and is therefore not sustainable, my range of alternative to the energy was limited to wind and solar energy. However, upon reading the four articles, I now understand that electrical energy is even more efficient as is the case with light rail transport system (Teaford, 2008). Further, the incorporation of different strategies in achieving an efficient mode of transportation is clearly more effective than relying on just one. In fact, the dependence on fossil fuel has cost the world immense challenges in transportation following urban sprawls.

There is no denying that the discussion was highly effective in improving my understanding of different concepts, ideas and themes. In particular, the themes discussed resonated with those in the course and also the concepts in the articles. In this regard, therefore, the discussion was highly effective in improving my personal comprehension of both article and film contents. The involvement of different people in the discussion helped in providing different and unique angles to a single concept thus helping in a better understanding. For instance, the discussion regarding the available solutions to the problem of urban sprawl helped in pointing out solutions that I never thought they existed. Eventually, the discussion resulted into a more informed person with better insights into the problem and its solutions. Also, discussions on the available solution to the dependence of fossil fuel were quite interesting as each member came up with different alternatives. In the end, we had more than five sources of energy, some of which were new to my understanding.


Works cited

Behan, Kevin, Hanna Maoh, and Pavlos Kanaroglou. “Smart growth strategies, transportation and urban sprawl: simulated futures for Hamilton, Ontario.” The Canadian Geographer/Le Géographe canadien 52.3 (2008): 291-308.

Charmes, Eric, and Roger Keil. “The Politics of Post‐Suburban Densification in Canada and France.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 39.3 (2015): 581-602.

Solomon, Lawrence. Toronto sprawls: a history. University of Toronto Press, 2007.

Teaford, Jon C. “Review Essay—Stopping Sprawl.” (2008): 745-748.



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