Greg and I have been doing a lot of talking about how great it would be to live in a community that was less car-focused. A community that was sustainable and where the important things, like groceries and schools, were all within walking distance. And not just within walking distance like along a busy car-filled road, but where there were intentional paths for the purpose of foot and bike travel to these areas.

We do have a Safeway within walking distance, but the two options for walking there aren’t very pleasant and I don’t feel comfortable doing the walk alone.

The first option is to follow the streets. It isn’t too bad within our little neighborhood, but the way to get there would involve walking along the major road near here and that gives me the shivers. Too many cars driving too fast. And there are some interesting characters that traverse it. [On a side note: It would be interesting to find out the story behind one entertaining man who I see quite often standing along the side of the road, actively playing air guitar.]

Our second option starts out okay with a nice path meandering behind our neighborhood and through a park. Then it cuts across an apartment parking lot and finally works its way through a large barren field (no trees, scorched earth) and the path is too rutted to be able to navigate a stroller, which is a must have with young children. We did make the walk a couple weeks ago with the intent of trying it out and also trying out the Baskin Robbins, but as luck would have it, the first time we attempted this long walk the ice cream store was closed for remodeling. Argh.

Along with a less car-focused society, I would love to live in a community where life was shared. Where everybody knows everybody; perhaps sharing a common area. I fondly remember my childhood days where we knew all of our neighbors and how safe we felt. We could count on the neighbors across the street to watch our pets while we left on vacation. We would return the favor when they were out of town. As for a common “shared” area, there were several vacant lots behind our house that became the gathering place for the entire neighborhood’s children.  We happily made biking trails and jumps in the fields, someone put up a large swing set, and my dad planted trees. It was our common area. Yeah, I know somebody “owned” the land, but as far as we were concerned, it wasn’t anyone we really knew.

I also miss the small town I grew up in. Not that town in particular, but the small town Midwestern USA feel in general. Running into people I knew at the grocery store, being able to greet everyone by name at church, and being known myself by others. I do bump into people I know here in the big city occasionally (even people from that very same small town!) and it is always so exciting for me. I just wish it happened more. I watch Gilmore Girls, and drool over their little town.

When thinking further on sharing, I am reminded of how many possessions we personally have that are just lying around the house, only used or needed once in great while. The lawnmower, weed-eater, steam vac, various woodworking tools and saws. All very valuable and necessary sometimes, but not all the time. I wonder what it would be like to share those types of things with others in a community. Not only would it be cheaper, but less waste and consumerism would also be a positive result. I know that someone would have to be responsible to maintain things, etc. But at the same time, I had many roommates in college and we had a system like this and overall, it worked wonderfully.

Now I am not talking about sharing EVERYthing. I still need my private space. My home. And I am also blessed to know a couple of our neighbors and have a relationship with one of them where I do feel comfortable calling her to ask to borrow a ladder, a cup of flour, or for advice. But I wish I knew more of the people here. Most of them are still strangers to me, and after 7 years of living here, that is just sad.

You know what I really want? Stars Hollow meets Vancouver or Boulder. Small, friendly, cozy and sharing life together but also progressive, techy, diverse and environmentally friendly. *sigh* Anyone know of a place like this?

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5 Responses

  1. Janis says:

    I am thankful all my kids had a childhood where you felt (and were) safe to play outside, and were free to play all around the neighborhood pretty much. I remember letting you kids play down at the “sea creature” rocks by yourselves! And I don’t remember worrying. It was the kind of childhood I also enjoyed, except I was free to roam the WHOLE town. Thinking back on some things Larry and I did though, (like climbing up the tall, falling apart, abandoned grain elevator) we might of had a little too much freedom! Diana had her horse “Amigo” boarded just a few blocks away from our home. She was about 16 at that time, I would of been 10. I will never forget the times she and I rode double on Amigo and galloped all around the area which is now Barker Jr. high school and full of houses. The beautiful wooded and trailed area we rode in is all gone…but the memories are still there….

  2. Janis says:

    Are you thinking of maybe moving closer this way? To where we are thinking of moving to also? 🙂

  3. Jen says:

    I whole-heartedly agree with ALL of that.

    I know of one such place ( It’s a new development specifically made to be a community (although not so much with the being able to walk to stores, etc) but unfortunately you have to be rich to afford it. House start at about $500,000, I think.

    I do see a change in thinking going on around here though that makes me hopeful such ideas will become more commonplace and affordable at some point.

  4. jamie says:

    sounds wonderful.

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