Monday, June 14, 2021

Walkable. Walkable. Walkable.

This David Perell tweet is from last year, when we were mired more deeply in the pandemic, but I agree wholeheartedly. Longtime readers know I'm a big proponent of walkable communities. Which doesn't just mean "streets that are good for walking." We have plenty of those here in my planned development in Florence, Arizona. I can walk for miles on sidewalks and golf-cart paths. But there's no community. The few choices for commerce are clumped together at the front of the development.1 

Every house is essentially a McMansion, so we are all McMansion dwellers who only know each others' names through Facebook conversations. There is some residential-based commerce allowed, such as hair stylists and music lessons. But it's tightly controlled and not the same as streets with a mixture of houses, apartments, mom-and-pop groceries, a coffee shop, a bookstore and a pizzeria. Plus, great walkable communities can have snickelways!

But enough from me. Here's some of what Perell had to say in his Twitter thread last October:
"One of the weirdest things about modern urbanism is that we build the opposite of what we like. We adore Europe’s narrow streets, but build skyscraper-lined cities with six-lane roads and sterile shopping malls, that are impossible to walk. Right now, I’m living in a suburb of Austin, Texas. I don’t have a car so I’m entirely dependent on delivery workers and my roommates (who have cars) if I want to go anywhere. Tires, not feet, are the engines of practical reality which makes you feel powerless as a meager human. American society is entirely oriented around the car. I saw this when I registered to vote last week. To prove identity, the form asked for my driver’s license, not my passport. That’s not necessarily a problem, but it reveals how we serve cars instead of making them serve us. I'm increasingly convinced that avoiding scale is a recipe for happiness. Keep a small group of close friends, work with a small team of people, and avoid big companies (yes, there is nuance here). Economically, the notion is absurd. Emotionally, it increasingly feels true."
Finally, with walkable communities, you can have experiences like this:
Previous Papergreat posts about walkable communities 

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