120 Inhabiting Suburbia with Johnny Sanphillippo

On this episode of the root simple podcast I speak with Johnny Sanphillippo about the opportunities and challenges of inhabiting suburbia. Johnny asks some provocative questions in our discussion and on his blog Granola Shotgun. Can we make old communities better? How do we deal with the housing affordability crisis? What does the future hold for suburbia?

Johnny describes himself as an amateur architecture buff with a passionate interest in where and how we all live and occupy the landscape, from small rural towns to skyscrapers and everything in between. During the podcast we mention:

How do you inhabit suburbia? Join the discussion by leaving a voice mail at (213) 537-2591. We’ll play your comments on the next podcast.

If you’d like to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected] You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. Closing theme music by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

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  1. Oh, so many things.

    I’m under contract to purchase a property that is currently technically not habitable. To restore so I can rent it out long enough so that I can move out of suburbia into the country so I can actually live a more sustainable life. And I’m dealing with pretty much every single problem that he brought up.

    Neighbors who don’t want renters, despite the fact they have to be an improvement over the meth-head owners who have been squatting on their now-deceased mother’s property for the last 20 years. People who don’t want the 1920s farmhouse to change. It’s a drug den. It’s going to change. A love of the city but no ability to be able to afford living there. I’m actually moving where I am moving because there still is a town and I want to be part of a town. A community that doesn’t want (restaurant-going, good-tipping, small business supporting, small business OWNING, school-levy paying) “liberals” like me moving to the area. I’m literally just trying to preserve agricultural space in an agricultural area so it isn’t overrun with a subdivision or a McMansion.

    And then there’s King County…

    This podcast hit all the bullseyes. All of these things are like charging at walls right now.

  2. As a fan of both Root Simple and Granola Shotgun I want to say thanks to Eric, Kelly and Johnny for your combined commitment to thinking outside the box and reframing ideas about how to live well.
    So many life experiments, stories and resources pop up on both blogs that create those ‘Ah!’ moments for me.
    I especially appreciate that all of you live on small incomes and use ingenuity rather than just dollars to solve your living dilemmas.
    Yes to flexibility and resilience as tools to move forward into our interesting future. I really enjoyed Johnny’s story about the way he has worked with his tenants to find a way that all of them can live well. Win-win. Wonderful!

  3. I’m rather new to the podcast, but I wanted to say that this episode was fantastic and Johnny did a great job of putting context to a lot my concerns as a young parent and new home owner.

    We live in Canada (Just north of NY) and have purchased a small home in the historic downtown area of a town with a 45k population. The home is now hyper insulated and has been designed as a center of production while keeping utility costs very low (and getting lower).

    Of course even here, we run into municipal bylaw issues preventing us from (openly) completing many of the projects that we have in mind. Most of our bylaws were written in 1969 have haven’t even been reviewed since.

    Thanks for the great show!


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