For this new episode of the Building Bridges podcast, I’m thrilled to share my interview with Diana Lind, a writer and urban policy specialist whose book Brave New Home: Our Future In Smarter, Simpler, Happier Housing I devoured a few months ago.
In her book, Diana explains that the ‘American Dream’-like single-family home so typical of the 20th-century has become “a lonely, overpriced nightmare”. Even though nuclear families are no longer the norm, housing hasn’t yet caught up with changing social norms and demographics.
Diana champions new, more ambitious housing policies and she is adamant that we need more options to solve the biggest problems of our times: climate change, loneliness and insufficient healthcare. In this podcast we discuss the emerging trends, the housing crisis, the impact of the pandemic and why there’s some reason to be hopeful about the future of housing.
Here are some quotes from Brave New Home:
Over the past several decades, American demographics and social norms have shifted dramatically. More people are living alone, marrying later in life, and having smaller families while their lifestyles have also become more virtual, more mobile, and less stable. But despite a different and more diverse America, our housing is still stuck in the 1950s.
This style of living, centered around the single-family home, is a relatively new concept in the history of humankind. Up until World War II, families traditionally lived in more communal situations, ranging from multigenerational households to close-knit neighborhoods full of friends and family. (...)
The more I searched these issues, the more I became convinced that the presumed benefits of single-family homes masked their negative social, economic, and environmental consequences. The data suggest that the current housing paradigm—predominantly oriented around owning a single-family home—is unaffordable, unhealthy, and out of step with consumer demand. And a large and growing portion of the population is unable to access the homeownership lifestyle, even if they desire it.
I loved talking with Diana about demographics, changing social norms, housing history and housing policies. I hope you enjoy listening to this conversation as much as I enjoyed recording it! Do not forget to share it with people who might be interested 🏘️ 💌
Also Building Bridges is part of a network of Substack newsletters, which you may want to discover: there’s Nicolas Colin’s European Straits, there’s my Laetitia@Work, and our French newsletter, Nouveau Départ.
(Credit: Franz Liszt, Angelus ! Prière Aux Anges Gardiens—extrait du disque Miroirs de Jonas Vitaud, NoMadMusic.)