I’m a parent so, not surprisingly, I’m always on the lookout for intersections between that and my work in community design. The last time I considered the issue, I was thinking at the level of the neighborhood and exploring how walkable, mixed-use, mixed-product environments help parents combat a host of contemporary child-rearing ills. That post hit home for a lot of people and, since that time, my fellow ‘Shaker, Hazel Borys, has dug in further with her recent TED Talk, “Confessions of a Former Sprawl Addict.”
Today I move from the neighborhood to the house and wonder: In what ways are evolving trends in home buying impacting our kids — and our responsibility for raising them?
Back in June, I wrote a piece about how, compared to sprawl, smart growth produces places better suited to raising children. The overall takeaway was simple: When kids are able to navigate the world around them, manage conflicts, make decisions, screw up and recover, they’re better off for it. And place is a big contributor to that. Attracting families to life in the city can be a difficult endeavor. But given the stakes, it’s a critical one.
Over the course of the post, I touched on a lot of different things. Vancouver, and the challenges they faced with their own smart growth efforts. Buying happiness, helicopter parenting and fragile, teacup children. The value of independence, and the need to align political and market forces to make things happen. And, oh yeah. Popsicles.
Which idea do you think actually went somewhere?
Put the village on hold. For the time being, it’s gonna take a parent, a councilman and a developer to raise a child.
Flashback 2003: Attending the New Partners for Smart Growth conference in New Orleans, I caught the keynote from a planning official for Vancouver, British Columbia. Now, under normal circumstances, I don’t suppose I’d remember much of what he said but, at the time, my daughter was just over three years old and something he used as the overall framing for his making Smart Growth work presentation really resonated with me.
“If it works for kids,” he said, “it works for everyone.”