Monday, January 28, 2013

High School in Maine Creates Spatial Experiences: 2

Our concept of family, home, and place come directly from experience. If we grow up in an apartment-like place in the middle of a packed urban context then that is our comfort zone and what we consider normal. If we grow up in a small town town in a single family home then that is our normal. Experiences throughout our life add to this baseline but none can be as strong.

I lived as a teen in a house on Main Street in a small town in the middle of Maine- Orono- a college town. I couldn't imagine why anyone would want to live outside of town as I could walk across the street up to school; I could walk down to Pat's Pizza, the IGA, or LaVerdiere's (LaVerdiere's Halloween commercial) . Most of my friends could walk to school or bike if they wanted to. My concept of place is rooted in this typical small town main street space. When we got our licenses we cruised around some but of course, we spent a lot of time parked downtown and hanging out with each other leaning against our cars with the Jensen triaxials cranking out hard rock . My urban experience was main streets and the campus at UMO.

Later I fell in love with the copper roofs and burnt orange medeival fabric of the Gamla Stan in Stockholm, the brick Back Bay of Boston, the canals in Leningrad, the Moorish courtyards of the Alhambra, and the Portland Maine peninsula. These experiences compliment the main street base line by adding intricacy and spatial complexity to the pedestrian possibilities.

Our Maine spaces can improve through the strengthening of our experiences growing up here. We can focus on how our kids walk to school- what can we do to make these walks safe, fun and social? In Orono I just walked across the street and started up the short street to school. In our Maine towns we can build sidewalks and bike paths from dense housing areas to schools in town with police warming glass huts at center junctions to watch over things. My Main Street had trees along the road with sidewalks leading through town and across the bridge up towards the university. Our kids could benefit from bike paths speeding along the street and cutting through the neighborhoods.

Our families crave the coffee shop, IGA, Pat's Pizza and LaVerdiere's type stores along our Main Streets. In high school we were bored and needed places to gather and do things. We loved finding places to just hang out and look at something. This could be a view over a river or pond or a view at the town. Spatial experiences were much sought after if I think about it now, looking back. It's up to us now to help create a variegated in town spatial experience for children to move through and build enjoyable experiences. My high school Main Street life did that for me.

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