Neighborhood Values (or Why I Don't Want to Live in the Burbs)
It's no secret that I have made many a barb at the burbs. What I really loathe is urban sprawl that taxes our infrastructure and increases our dependency on cars. Strip malls line the landscape here, and it's a rudely jarring eyesore to the Nth degree. Locally owned shops aren't spontaneously combusting. Suburban growth is bringing the big box marvels to town. My disdain is not about money or class or cachet. It's also not about the people. It's about shared values. It is no secret that people choose their homes based on a sense of values, not just cost. Now work with me here. I'm not here to incite a fight or anything. This is not a personal attack. I'm not judging, though my tone can admittedly be snarky and irreverent.
I surely don't fault people for making the housing and neighborhood choices they make. I take my share of flak for choosing city living. People balk at the price per square foot we paid for our house and are astounded we wouldn't want a larger house with a media room and two car garage for less than what we stroke a monthly check for. People also shake their head in pity that we live with a yard about the size of six parking spots at the mall. Many people think we are doing our sons a disservice because they don't have a yard large enough to host a bouncy house party or play a proper game of football. We do have plenty of room for my sons to play baseball, frolic on the Slip n Slide, grow vegetables in two garden beds, and cook up pudgie pies in the outdoor patio fireplace. They yard is a tish small for Hide & Seek, but it makes it easy to round up the kids for dinner.
It seems that suburbia is peppered with clock towers, bucolic sounding subdivision monikers, community pools, and whatever the modern day equivalent of bridge clubs are. There just seems to be a lot of sameness. While there is a sense of community and neighborliness, new neighborhoods can foster homogeneity because they tend not to attract people in different life stages. For example, you wouldn't find retired couples, empty nesters, and new parents on the same block because the neighborhood's built in amenities do not cater to all those audiences. My husband and I prefer our sons grow up around a variety of people, not just families with 2.3 kids. The sounds of children romping through the streets is not the only thing that makes a place family friendly. Remember, "family" has many faces. I realize that definition is open to interpretation. I fear that too much sameness causes an insulated sense of community, the same dynamic that fuels the "neighborhood school" argument that has recently killed our county's diversity policy. When your mindset goes from the community at large to only your set of gridded streets, the effects can be damaging.Continued on the next page