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Turns out chain store proliferation and the malling of America aren't the only big threats to local identity. "Ecological homogenization" is thumping sense of place, too. That's the argument advanced in this week's New York Times magazine. There's plenty of evidence that Minneapolis is becoming more like Phoenix which is becoming more like Baltimore, and on and on. Cities reflect one another more than their own peripheries. The factors are choice of yard and street plantings and style of development— consumer tastes are less and less tied to bioregion. In other words, all garden stores have cactuses and most subdivisions have ponds. [NYT]