Choosing space over place, and privacy over community, hampers a healthy public life. It’s a condition driven by having too much in our private worlds. Where we live affects how we live. And consequently, how we live greatly affects who we and our children are. Decisions thought to amplify life often suck up our freedom and our energy to respond to the responsibilities of citizen, neighbour and fellow human being.
“Oh Mom,” moaned our six-year old daughter walking home from school, “look at all those poor people sitting in traffic!” I chuckled at her compassion for this strange car-bound population. What she does not yet grasp is that most families don’t live, as she does, in compact towns and city neighbourhoods where the freedom to walk everywhere is a way of life. While some families lack the opportunity, others have deliberately chosen not to live in towns or city neighbourhoods.
Mixed-used, pedestrian-friendly places promote a more rigorous public life, inspiring healthy community and engaged citizens precisely because, ready or not, face time with your neighbours is unavoidable. When your wall is someone else’s, getting along is imperative. These places often come with smaller, storage-challenged homes that confront America’s intoxication with material things. Also, raising kids in this environment encourages the development of city smarts and a respect for the unfamiliar.
More of us should be animated by an interest in places that serve people, in places that elevate the importance of people—the crown of creation—and encourage a sense of citizenship from the little tykes on up.
Go here to continue.