Monday, May 20, 2013

Place, community, and politics

Ross Douthat is a different breed of conservative, and I almost always read his columns with satisfaction.  He tries to cut through all the political grandstanding of either party to get to some basic truths.  One of these was "When Place is not Enough".

I posted the following as a comment to his article:
We've lived in the same house now for 14 years, and we still don't know the names of all our neighbors. We chat with a few, but we either are inside or out and about. We belong to some various groups and form our relationships within them.

I think stay-at-home moms have contributed to neighborhood or town cohesion, but as kids grow up and interests diverge, more activities outside the neighborhood draw people away from their neighbors and towards others with similar interests all over town.

In Duluth we have three choices for getting around - car, bus, and walking. We use each according to conditions. The car obviously doesn't let us connect to our neighbors other than a friendly wave. The bus is less than a block away and there are few people out to meet. We can walk to several places within a mile and do in nice weather, but we rarely meet anyone regularly. It is the people at these various destinations that we know better than those in our block.

I grew up in Cleveland in mostly lower middle-class neighborhoods. In the 40s and 50s I knew only half the kids and no more than 10 percent of the adults on the same block.  My network was through school, community center, and a church, all within a mile of my house but past dozens of houses whose occupants I knew not.

I do laud the Front Porch Republicans and communitarians for striving to make where we live better places.  If more of us do that maybe we can organize better to put the Masters of the Universe in their place!
I highly recommend at least taking a peek at the About page of the Front Porch Republic.  It looks like a good basis of a new political party.  Or at least for independent candidates to use as an inspiration.