Voices from the suburbs

On housing and neighborhoods: People don't buy a house. They buy a neighborhood. People will buy a back yard, they'll buy friendly neighbors who smile, they'll buy well-kept lawns. People buy attics (''I've always wanted an attic''). Or a woman will buy a kitchen facing the street. People buy birch trees. We're all the same.m

- John Milligan, real estate broker, Needham, Mass.

It's more difficult to move into a neighborhood now, because no one's home. You don't even look for friends within your neighborhood. Before, a lot of my roots came from my neighborhood friends. Everybody's so busy, they have so many obligations, they don't have time for friends.m

- Kathleen Mailloux, Belle Mead, N.J.

Much of the housing in this country was not built for the ages. A lot of it is 30, 40 years old. If you put fresh money in, it's going to be good. But it may or may not be rescued.m

- George Sternlieb, director of Center for Urban Policy Research, Rutgers University

The skewing in this society toward homeownership, rather than a much more balanced supply between owning and renting, is contributing to the housing crunch right now. What we're forcing young people to do is instantly buy.m

- Constance Perin, cultural anthropologist and urban planner, Cambridge, Mass. On children:

In suburbs, children's time is more organized. I don't think some of these children know how to go home and just play or jump rope. Yet they've worked all day in school - let them go home and play. There's too much pressure to perform and succeed.m

- Jo Belval, second-grade teacher, Needham, Mass.

The mothers come in at the end of the day all frustrated. They're so involved in their careers. When they pick up their children, the kids are enthusiastic about a project or a paper. If the mothers have had a bad day at the office they'll just squelch them right away, and say, ''Be quiet - I need some peace and quiet.'' There's a lot of disregard for children and what their needs are at this age. I'm very concerned. I don't think it's working the way it is.m

- Kari Bazemore, assistant administrator, day-care center, Campbell, Calif.

I see many parents as very busy people who want the best for their children and want them to have the advantages that they grew up with. But they don't have a lot of time to oversee those needs, and they depend on agencies in the community to continue to provide those things.m

- Nancy Madson, high school assistant principal, Cupertino, Calif. On heterogeneity: Our classes are more mixed ethnically now. This is a beautiful thing that's happening in the suburbs - a larger mix of ethnic groups.

- Jo Belval

We have a large Oriental influence at this school, and a good proportion of them are assimilating. I think we have something to learn from other groups. I welcome that kind of new energy and new ways of looking at things.m

- Nancy Madson

A town that stresses only one thing is wrong, whether it be youth or older people. There should be something for everyone.m

- John Milligan On crime:

One thing changing the suburbs tremendously is the greater element of crime. My suburban friends can no longer ask me, ''Aren't you afraid to live in the city?'' Child-snatching, guns, robberies - these things give suburbanites an urban mentality.m

- Paula Vitkus, Chicago On change:

Many second-generation suburbanites have no firsthand knowledge of the city. The old ''best of both worlds'' factor seems completely gone from suburban thinking. The shopping mall has replaced many former city attractions.m

- Betty Stuart Smith, Evanston, Ill.

If you go back 10 years, there weren't many women involved in town government. Now people recognize the talents they have, and they're being used more and more for very important jobs.m

- John Milligan On the future:

In the '50s I was concerned with the great spurt in suburban growth and investment development. Now the challenge is going to be more recycling and whether suburbs can find the capacity to accommodate smaller families with two jobs, singles, and the old in place of the kind of family that existed in the ' 50s, for which the homes were built.m

- Robert C. Wood, author of ''Suburbia: Its People and Their Politics,'' Boston

I think it's the responsibility of each of us, whether we participate in our towns or whether we're simply taxpayers enjoying the benefits of suburban living , to examine in our own consciences whether we should be making longer-term planning efforts that will provide for these same benefits to be available for future generations.m

- C. Richard McCullough, architect, Medfield, Mass.

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