Wednesday, July 7, 2010

White flight may get its own museum in Johnson County

Posted by on Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge Merriam Village ran into trouble.
  • Merriam Village ran into trouble.

A recent Associated Press story makes Johnson County sound like Portland with better schools.

The story outlined the vision for the National Museum of Suburban History, an idea that's being promoted by the officials at the Johnson County Museum and the Arts Council of Johnson County. The AP story began by declaring Johnson County an "economic powerhouse that has eclipsed its big-city neighbor in political influence."

The writer of the story, Alan Scher Zagier, took a few liberties. He describes Johnson County as a "cultural melting pot." Yes, it's possible to find a good Thai place in Mission and other enclaves. But Johnson County is 89.8

percent white, according to Census data, making it less brown than even other parts of Kansas.

The AP story about the dynamism of Johnson County and its ilk comes at a time when one of suburbia's most prominent chroniclers, David Brooks, has come to the conclusion that it's not all that invigorating.

Brooks, the author and New York Times columnist, is featured in the current New York magazine. He tells his profiler, Christopher Beam, that he's changed his mostly positive view of suburban and exurban places.

"Now I'm much more skeptical," Brooks says.

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