Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Great Gift To Ourselves

It's always enlightening to me when the solstice rolls around and we celebrate various holidays that we all share a common theme in our desires. We all turn our thoughts to home, family and community. And the images we desire and replicate in our plays, greeting cards, toys for our kids, movies, etc., are all those of well designed pedestrian communities. 

We are attracted to cozy fireplaces; Victorian street images of street lamps, brick sidewalks, brick and wood buildings; narrow streets with shop windows and street vendors; friends walking up to us on the street and giving us a happy greeting- on the street- the image is not in a parking lot or mall. All of our true desires of a warm friendly community come out this time of year.

We may live on a cul-de-sac in suburbia with a bit of a walk from house to house but when it comes time to tune into a movie or show which makes us feel good we always gravitate to the old pedestrian town/city. All our toy towns are like that. Our kids don't want a little toy town of parking lots and expressways. It's curious just how we all agree on what we really want but just how little we realize we can have that. We don't buy greeting cards with nice paintings of strip malls even though that is how we live- what we have agreed on. 

Psychologists and philosophers of old have proposed a shared consciousness or 'a priori' set of desires. It doesn't take a lot of thought to understand the natural desire of all to protect and promote our families and friends and communities in which we feel accepted- that's Darwinian. But that these desires are best met through creating cozy villages and cities is for some reason a larger step. 

Where's Waldo? He's in a vibrant crowd of people!

It may be after taking care of our children and relations and friends and homeless, there is a great gift we can give ourselves as members of a local community. This is the creation of a town or city master plan based on the way we want to experience our towns. The desire to be in a cozy Maine village doesn't mean we have to go away from our own towns to another picturesque town and stay at an inn. It just takes a little planning.

And that may be the greatest gift to ourselves.

Happy Holidays to All!

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