Suburbs with a difference: Yes, some are 'enlightened'
Critics of suburbs have called them bland, monocultural, and insular. Though some may fit the "selfish and soulless" stereotype, the Utne Reader, a digest of independent ideas and alternative culture, has identified what it calls "enlightened" suburbs – ones that are rich in "civic spirit and livability." These communities range from affluent Montgomery County, Md., a leader in antisprawl development, and Shaker Heights, a 1920s garden suburb of Cleveland that has adopted pro-integration policies, to Suisun City, Calif., a once rough-and-tumble San Francisco Bay Area suburb that has transformed its downtown with two new plazas, a town hall, and a revitalized waterfront. Utne's picks for the 10 most enlightened North American suburbs, with the cities or metropolitan areas they're geographically linked to: