Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Village Living

My eldest just returned from a sleepover. She said she and her friend walked this morning to the library and Walgreen's. I'm envious -- I wish I lived close enough to walk to a Walgreen's and a library. And a grocery store. And a post office. And my church. And a bank -- well, I probably do live close enough for that.

The summer before my first pregnancy, I attended a four-week NEH seminar at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. The village of Gambier, they call it. One of the neatest little towns I've been in. I'll try to describe my memory of it, but won't swear to its complete accuracy. I'm sure I've romanticized it some over the years.

At the center of town was a one-block long "business district", that didn't look business-y at all because it had a lovely tree'd median down the middle and little or no traffic. On this block was a grocery store, a bank, a post office, the college bookstore (which was also a coffee shop, snack bar and more), a couple restaurants . . you know, all the basics. At each end of this block was college property -- academic on one end, residential on the other -- kind of like a barbell. And then there were homes and some other businesses surrounding all this.

Basically, anyone living on or near the campus (which seemed to be the majority of the town) could walk to downtown, where most of the necessities of life could be found. It was the epitome of idealistic small town America.

I wish we could plan our towns to be communities like this. Even the big cities can be a collection of such communities. Don't you think if it was more convenient and pleasant to walk to these places, people would do it? Don't you think these little communities would be likely to grow the kinds of social connections that we are missing so much in today's world?

I know, it's idealistic. I do indulge in a little idealism on occasion.

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