So the other night I had just went to see a movie and soon afterwards ran into some other folks from my high school years. We started talking about what everyone was doing when one of my friends chimed in that he was writing a thesis about New Urbanism. We started talking about all these issues surrounding this topic: gentrification, neighborhood schools, the need for anchors in the community and how Charlotte, NC has approached the issues surrounding new urbanism.
Later we talked about how the Tiny House Movement fits into this notion of urbanism. My friend noted that when he reads this site, he gets the notion of building the Tiny House in the woods, away from it all. It’s true, I tend to focus on this, which I am at odds with. The fact is to truly maximize sustainability in the highly populated world we live in today, we must come together and live in a more dense area. I know that to truly usher in my way of living, one that is green and ecofriendly, one that is sustainable, one that focuses on local, one that focuses on community I must live in an area that is more densely packed. The issues of course is how do you live in close proximity to others, while still having room to roam, to connect with nature and ensure a high quality of life.
Today’s urban centers are as my favorite author/speaker James Kunstler “the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world, you can call it a technosis externality clusterfuck and it’s a tremendous problem for us, the outstanding problem is that there are places no one cares about”. And that’s the rub, the urban manifestation is a place that no one cares about, that pushes out the poor, the minorities or if that isn’t possible, we turn to the phenomenon of “white flight”. We talked about how we need to create places that are local, have your anchors (schools, stores, grocery, churches, living, office space and a non-salient parking plan for double the intended capacity), how these need to be with in walking distance to each other, but where you can go to other centers via mass transit that people actually want to ride. Preferably we want a place where cars aren’t allowed in the main pedestrian areas, so long as you have lots of parking underground that allows the area to be permeable.
As we discussed all these huge issues I realized that this was a really extraordinary event happening, I was in awe! Each person standing in that circle, talking about these huge issues, these progressive issues, these ideas that I feel will change the world in an impactful way, we were from such wildly different backgrounds. I am the only self described “eco friendly” person, the others were not a polar opposite, but represented many different sects of society. I was astonished, not that I think of them as stupid, but that they don’t have a logical reason to know this much about new urbanism and surrounding issues. That essentially regular people had their finger on the pulse of such progressive and important issues was amazing.
It gave me a glimmer of hope that this dialogue that we were having about new urbanism, environmental issues, sustainability and community/local focus might be happening as a whole with people my age, that this generation, which has been sometimes labeled as useless, might be growing to inspire a new age of responsible and progressive thinking.
Now before I get too excited I took a step back to really look at the group and who we were. I am seeking a PhD, working for Americorp and running a Tiny House blog, my other friend is a researcher at Duke University, the next girl is a social psychologist pursing her masters at Columbia, finally my friend who is a politician/going to Davidson College, who lost while running for a major office in Charlotte by only 3% at the age of 22 with no money. These are admittedly not normal people. But I hope that this dialogue is happening outside of these circles. That my generation is talking about these issues with their friends, so that when we start taking hold as the baby boomers slip into retirement, that we can usher in a new age of socially and environmentally responsible corporatism in all areas of our lives.