It occurred to me today that the reasons why more and more people are choosing new urbanism as the kind of community they want to live in is for much the same reasons why so many people are attracted to social media and web 2.0 technology.
We are social beings. We try our best to build barriers between one another but before long we eventually break them down.
In the 1950’s we built suburbs 30 miles from where we worked on the belief that our happiness was linked to driving big cars, mall shopping and lawn care. The “people” factor was secondary.
Today we recognize how much richer, “greener” and satisfying our communities can be without long commutes. We’re rediscovering the joy of shopping locally for food and supplies. Working and socializing in our community is not something to fear but something that can really enhance our lives – socially and financially.
Finding ways to attract more employers to our communities is now becoming a full-time community effort as we recognize that the sustainability of our communities depends on the social and commercial mix of our neighborhoods.
Community building is at the heart of new urbanism which is why I couldn’t wait to get a copy of a new publication called Instructions from the Cook: Recipes for New Conversations. This book by George Nemeth and Jack Ricchiuto (two individuals you can follow on Twitter) looks at how “conversations” between people can build community and eliminate the misunderstandings that can cause fragmentation.
If you haven’t joined Twitter you should. Twitter is one of those web 2.0 technologies enabling conversations between people and nurturing a great mix of commercial and social chat. It’s the “virtual water cooler” for many who work at home and others as well. The popularity of Twitter and a number of discussion forums on the web is rooted in the fact that real, breathing people want to share their thoughts, ideas, humor and fear with other real people everyday.
We congratulate each other on the birth of children and share condolences at the loss of a loved ones. Thousands (if not millions) of people connect in this way regularly, almost without fail. This is, IMO, a truly awesome concept and development in our modern lives.
We’ve found a way to make “cold, unfeeling techonlogy” very touchy feely much like we’ve done with our communities. From the ‘burbs to new ‘urbs we’re rediscovering the gift and impact of conversation outside of our protected circles and the appreciation of being in community with each other.