Real Science

This paragraph from the article above makes me think how we avoid communities and people since our world is designed that way:

“Since the 1950s, efforts to do away with traffic congestion have inevitably been linked with urban decline. Decades ago, deindustrialization, urban renewal, and freeway construction cleared wide swaths of inner cities in places like Kansas City, Syracuse, and Miami — often targeting African American neighborhoods — and made it easy to drive through them. What made it even easier was the decline in commercial activity that ensued, which left the cities blighted with empty storefronts and office towers. Streets once filled with people interacting with one another were replaced by roads populated by people encased in fast-moving steel boxes. Cities made for speedy driving, it turns out, are cities made for little else.”

So true. Our lives are not built around bumping into others. I remember as a student in Spain, one of the other students said that in the US the roads were built for cars but in Europe they are built for people.

Here is the link again from undark magazine. Misguided Obsession with Traffic.

About CJ

I was a Spanish teacher for 5 years in the Public School system in 3 different states. I homeschooled and taught at a democratic free school. I heard about cohousing in 2010 and wanted to move in right away. I met a group building one in 2018 and got to move in the summer of 2019. It only took a year to want out.
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18 Responses to Real Science

  1. Flower says:

    I live in an older neighborhood built in the 50’s and there’s a street outside plus a sidewalk. Neither the street, the cars or the sidewalk prevents me from talking to my neighbors and interacting with them, if I want too. Likewise I’m out in my yard gardening, so there’s amply opportunity to interact if people want to talk. It has to be a two-way street though. If they just want to dominate an interaction making everything all about them and talking incessantly about themselves or only what interests them, then forget it. that’s how narcissism rears it’s ugly face.

    Most of the time I will often strike up a conversation with people and see if they are receptive and sometimes they are not and sometimes I’m not receptive either. I can walk to some shops that are within the vicinity as well and sometimes I’ll strike up a conversation with shop owners as well too. Potential encounters with homeless people make me less inclined to want to walk in the area because I don’t feel safe and I feel my safety comes first, regardless if someone dismisses my feelings about it.

    I’ve responded here before, but I do notice that a lot of people are glued to their phones and are not engaging at all with the world around them. I see it all of the time. In fact they’re not even bothering to watch traffic. Maybe it’s a way for them to avoid interactions. I don’t know. Maybe their idea of community is only when the benefit or want something from you.

  2. CJ says:

    I love a scene in Warm Bodies which is the zombie version of Romeo and Juliet. He says he remembers being alive and all we see is everyone alive but on their phones.

  3. Flower says:

    Cohousing is always knocking the suburbs as if living in them is some kind of existential threat to their wellbeing, yet plenty of people seem happy enough to live there. What a bunch of crock! Where I live there are plenty of greenbelts that exist within the burbs. The greenbelts exist for the community to use, if they choose too. And that concept is key here. Likewise, there’s ample opportunity for people to interact, if they choose too. I live near different parks which I can choose to walk in or use and I do. I can interact there if I choose, and I do. Again though it is usually older people who make an effort to converse and I’m okay with that.

    I’ve always been a walker and I’ve noticed how many people don’t bother. They seem content to walk into their homes and close the door. I didn’t feel that the people in my neighborhood were all that “friendly”. In fact, no one was. And the one person that was “friendly” became a nightmare to deal with which tainted the relationship–long story. Given her destructive behaviors and that of the alcoholic and a few others I’d thought to move. We also had “renters” who don’t usually give a damn about the neighborhood or broader “community” as they have no vested interest.

    I also love having a car as it spells FREEDOM and opportunity. I worked my butt off to buy my first “used” car. I saw it as an opportunity to go places that I wanted which was usually for hikes up in the beautiful mountains or trips to the beach. Owning a vehicle never prevented me opportunities to bump in to other people or to communicate with them. It is people who create situations that make communication unpleasant or difficult and in a lot of cases not wanted.

  4. Flower says:

    I forgot to add that having a car that I worked my butt off for was another hard lesson in life when I learned all about fake friends–the users and takers who were only interested in me because I had wheels to get some place.

  5. CJ says:

    If you are the first one with a car, it must be like winning the lottery. Suddenly you have lots of “friends”

  6. Flower says:

    “What made it even easier was the decline in commercial activity that ensued, which left the cities blighted with empty storefronts and office towers. Streets once filled with people interacting with one another were replaced by roads populated by people encased in fast-moving steel boxes.”

    I find a lot of problems with a statement like this. It leaves out critical information and that is the corporatization of America and the outsourcing of jobs in the name of “globalization”, which has been going on for quite some time. The job sourcing may help U.S. companies be more competitive in the global marketplace by keeping labor costs low in emerging markets with lower standards of living, but the main negative effect is it increases the unemployment here–it translates to unemployed Americans, despite the lower cost to consumers for “goods”.

    The slow, steady destruction of Main Street has been going on for a long time. The corporatization of the agricultural industry ate up small farms and essentially wiped out local economies.
    The automobile is not the enemy and didn’t create the blight of empty storefronts nor the lack of streets filled with people interacting. It was killed by corporatization and the outsourcing of jobs and people “interacting” with their cell phones with “like minded” people who agree with one another. You can also thank US domestic policy for contributing to the destruction. I could write more, but I’ll leave it at that.

    Some of these articles leave out substance and depth. They don’t tell the full story as it’s complicated.

    • CJ says:

      Does it still allow comments? This would be an excellent one.

      • Flower says:

        Not that I know of. I rarely comment. I have on a few blogs, including psychology today, but it’s rare as I don’t use social media either. I don’t want to have to join or provide my email and then deal with solicitations and all of that.

        When I read an article like that, truthfully any article it stimulates more questions given my education, background and experience. I could probably write and spin off in several different directions.

  7. Flower says:

    I forgot to mention when I spoke about corporatization that Wall Street is basically purchasing all the stock of single family homes. I’ve known about this for quite some time, With help from the federal government, institutional investors became major players in the rental market.

    They compete against American families who may want to purchase a home and are able to pay cash and outbid them. Do a bit of research on the topic. It’s not always easy to find info, but it’s out there. Home ownership gives people a stake in society. It’s a way to build generational wealth. It’s the foundation of the middle-class and part of the American dream. It’s also positive for “communities” as people become invested more in their neighborhoods and communities. And now permanent capital is robbing Americans of that dream. I’ve talked to a lot of people who would like to purchase a home and they are outbid and cannot afford it.

    A figure I read is that institutional investors own at least 1 in 5 homes and 1/3 of all homes sold in Texas in 2020. Private equity firms like BlackRock are purchasing entire neighborhoods of single-family homes and turning them into rentals…

    So what does this mean for the country? What are the implications? It means many families will be forced to stay in institutional rentals. Instead of building wealth, they’ll continue to fork over rent money every month to companies looking for more ways to increase rents and fees. Basically they are killing the dream of private home ownership in this country and giving citizens the nightmare of dispossession. They’re doing this to underwrite pensions and pad bottom lines by raising housing prices by gobbling up single-family homes and fueling another speculative investor-driven home price bubble.

    Were you around for the last one? I’m certain you were, but maybe you didn’t have to pay attention to it or it may not have impacted you. Well guess what if and when the bubble bursts, the same people they priced out of homes will end up subsidizing the bailout.

  8. CJ says:

    I wish more people would ask questions! That’d make a better world.

  9. Flower says:

    “I remember as a student in Spain, one of the other students said that in the US the roads were built for cars but in Europe they are built for people.”

    What this article leaves out is that the United States under the Mashall Plan provided aid to western and southern European countries following the devastation of World War II, investing $22 billion — or roughly $182 billion in real 21st-century dollars adjusted for inflation — in economic foreign assistance. (I’ve seen different figures). That certainly helped with their infrastructure (trains and transportation) paid for by the hard work of citizens of this country.

    I notice that many an article about cohousing talks about how people interested in these living arrangements often talk about how they are interested in lessening their ecological footprint and other viewpoints about the “environment”. Yet most are still reliant on some kind of transportation. In your case you didn’t wind up without having to use an automobile. You had to drive to work. How is that any “greener” or different than living in a suburb?

    I consider these issues because of my education and work in environmental and land use planning.

  10. CJ says:

    That’s true – depending on where the cohousing complex is located, you will still have to drive the same distance to work. I was surprised to learn that during the lockdown, all that working from home put more strain on our energy and made a worse carbon footprint.

    • Flower says:

      “I was surprised to learn that during the lockdown, all that working from home put more strain on our energy and made a worse carbon footprint.”

      I didn’t know that. What I wouldn’t like about a more rural cohousing is having to rely on someone else for my transportation. It would make life much more difficult and limit your options, especially when it comes to work. The other issue with public transportation is safety, which I concern myself with. All one has to do is hear the news stories about the subways and what is taking place, plus increased crime and the political policies that are contributing to it.

  11. Flower says:

    I found this quote from a dissertation while researching cohousing, “WWII autocentric community designs developed into disconnected islands. Workplaces and shopping and residential neighborhoods composed of single family homes are spatially disjointed across the landscape. Houses and their inhabitants exist in communities that are designed to move vehicles efficiently and do not encourage walking where residents can encounter each other. Backyards are fenced and shared public space is minimal.”

    I don’t agree with any of this. I don’t agree that the single family homes where I live are spatially disjointed or that I just exist in the community or that it’s designed to move vehicles and not encourage walking. I walk in my neighborhood and encounter other residents. I don’t stop to talk to them, except occasionally, but they have to be receptive. Certainly there’s a lot of opportunity to interact, if one chooses. There is shared public space, but you do have to walk or drive your car to it, if that means a park. I love having a fenced backyard. I use the space all of the time. After living in other conditions, such as apartments and condo’s I’m very happy to have a home with a private backyard and I love it, because I love to garden. To each their own!

    These cohousing communities–many are in rural locations and are isolated and aren’t part of a bigger whole – a city or town.

  12. CJ says:

    It is nice to know what one likes after experiencing various forms of neighborhoods. I asked a friend who I thought would love cohousing to join and she was a fast no – she had had enough of close living quarters in the military.

    • Flower says:

      You often learn what you like by experiencing what you don’t like. I had a drive to own a home, not rent as I did that before and it felt constricting to me. Even in one situation where the landlord said she didn’t mind if we painted, there were other things that I would have been wasting time and money on because I didn’t own the place and that is how I viewed the situation.

      These people that build the big homes–the McMansions don’t stay in the neighborhoods that they change. They leave and there is no commitment to the community.

      While I do love the housing and cottages that I see on the cohousing sites it would be a NO for me too. It’s too forced and not organic and natural. I would not want close living quarters like that either. Sometimes I feel that I live close enough already to some of my neighbors and would love more space.

  13. CJ says:

    Those beautiful cohousing houses do cost a lot to build new. That keeps a lot of people out.

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