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VIDEO: Why Suburban Development is a Giant Ponzi Scheme

Charles Marohn of Strong Towns tours the country speaking about the financial viability of communities, and he often generates passionate discussion when he refers to suburban development patterns as a Ponzi scheme.

We were joined by Chuck Marohn, founder of Strong Towns, on The UrbanCincy Podcast on June 21, 2013. On that podcast we discussed the financial realities of place, and debate how to get our communities back on the path toward financial sustainability.

Naturally, we discussed the great suburban experiment and how it has turned out to be a total failure. The concept can be difficult to grasp as we often see huge economic gains for places that build new strip malls or sprawling subdivisions, but the long-term reality is much different.

Chuck likes to refer to this as a type of a Ponzi scheme. It’s a controversial phrase to throw around, and it naturally garners a lot of attention when it is used, but there is a lot to what he has to say about the topic.

StreetFilms followed Chuck around the country for several months as he shared his information and message with thousands of people. Their short film compiles a lot of this content and puts it into an easy-to-digest video explaining the concept of the Suburban Growth Ponzi Scheme.

By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.