Readers – I just had a great time in Vancouver, where I gave a speech inaugurating the International Children’s Festival’s new “PEP Talk Series.” While there I met a lot of Free-Rangers who were very inspiring, including journalist/”urban experimentalist”Â Charles Montgomery, whose Happy City book will be coming out this fall. Among other things, it examines something we talk about here: How people are happier when they connect with their neighbors and neighborhoods. That’s true for adults and for kids. Think of your own childhood — wasn’t at least part of it spent in a swarm?
One impediment to spontaneous, outdoor meeting/greeting/playing is simply a lack of city planning. Or at least, a lack of planning that prioritizes helping people connect. Â it’s hard for a group of kids to meet up at the park, if it’s across a major access road with few stop lights and a sea of cars.
How bad can it get? Charles shared this amazing story — really, just two maps — from the blog PriceTags. The first map shows two ADJACENT HOUSES. The second Â shows the route the inhabitants would have to drive, if they wanted to shake hands. Left me shaking my head. – L.
Who knew this could take a quarter tank of gas?