The City Space

Cultivating Urban Understanding


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Respect the Renter

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Over the last decade, the percentage of renters in America has fluctuated between 33 and 36%. Yet, in spite of the fact that ⅓ of all Americans are renting their housing, there seems to be a notion in many neighborhoods and towns that owners are the main people who matter and the only ones who are going to be valuable members of their communities.

Indeed, I have encountered many community development organizations whose entire focus is increasing the amount of homeowners in a given neighborhoods and connecting them with grants, loans and classes to help them keep their houses looking nice and safe. This is an admirable mission and clearly has a positive impact on the people and communities that it serves. However, I have also encountered the opposite end of this owner-centered sentiment: an utter dismissal of renters as merely “transient” and “disengaged” in their communities, which sometimes becomes outright anger and prejudice towards them…

Read the rest on the Strong Towns blog.


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Why Sameness Scares Me

This is a video of a sub-division in an exurb of a major metropolitan city. I won’t name the location because it doesn’t really matter. You could film this video in almost every state in the nation: Row after row of identical houses, up against a tree-lined strip along a busy road. The occasional car. Not a soul in sight.

This is suburbia, or the ghost-town that many suburbs have become as a result of the great suburban experiment and the too-quick expansion that created sprawl as we know it, a pre-fab pattern that developers glommed onto and reproduced at far too rapid a rate for any appropriate feedback mechanism or checks and balances.

It was a way to get quick money using cheap land and cheap materials. It gave the people what they wanted. Or so we thought.

Sameness scares me. Sameness is only one of many reasons why the suburbs are bankrupting America (literally and spiritually) but it’s one of the central issues from which stem all the other issues that caused this suburban disaster. Continue reading


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A Life Update

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It’s been too many weeks since I published something on this blog and I miss it. My life has been caught up in work, side projects, planning for the future, and a new kitty. (See above.) Plus I’ve been feeling a tad uninspired, and I’ve been spending more time reading other peoples’ work than writing my own, which is an okay space to fall in sometimes. But since a lot of what I do is relevant to cities, here’s a brief overview of my life right now.

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I am extremely fortunate to be working in a field that is basically exactly what I’ve been wanting to do for a long time—helping to end homelessness. I get some direct service interaction with clients, which I truly value, but I also get to do a lot of behind-the-scenes work, which is where I really thrive. I am helping to run a rapid rehousing program (read all about that type of homelessness intervention here, in one of my first ever posts on the blog) in Milwaukee, WI. That means that every day, I help homeless families find apartments, and connect them with funding from the federal and local governments to help them afford to live in those apartments. The goal is that by the end of 12 months in the program, with the help of our case managers,  they will have increased their income enough to afford the apartment on their own. Thus far, we have put more than 40 families in housing, just in the span of 3 months. So naturally, that’s been keeping me pretty busy, especially since the program started from scratch on January 1 of this year. It’s been incredible to see the transformations that a family experiences when they go from living in a homeless shelter to living in their own home. The stability that a home brings is an essential foundation for helping parents to create a better life for their children, not to mention addressing mental health issues, financial struggles and more. In the short span of time that I’ve been working with this program, I’ve had many reflections and new ideas about how to combat homelessness in the future. One of the realizations that has definitely risen to the top is the need for more affordable housing, which I wrote about in a Strong Towns post on Wednesday. More on this topic soon.   Continue reading


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A Change in Perspective

Rockwell Automation Headquarters

Last Friday evening I was able to step out of the office around 4:45pm, a little earlier than I usually do. It had been an exhausting, full week—the phone constantly ringing, coworkers needing me for this and that, new projects starting and old ones wrapping up. My job ebbs and flows with one day feeling very relaxed and the next feeling off-the-walls hectic. An issue will arise and in my line of work—where good people are faced with impossible circumstances compounded by a lack of housing—that issue usually needs to be handled immediately. So it was a week of immediate needs.

But when I finally got to lock the door of my office and step outside to the bus stop, I was met with a glorious sight: sunlight. Up here in the north, 95% of my workdays end in darkness, the sun having set by 5 or 5:10. On Friday, this was not the case. As I shuffled my feet fighting off the cold while I waited for the bus, I looked across the street at the hard concrete façade of the grand Rockwell Automation Headquarters and caught the sun gracing its corners at the most gorgeous angle. They don’t call it the “magic hour” for no reason. A layer of golden light seemed to have settled on the glass windows in a perfect, cascading arc. The neighborhood where I work, Walkers Point, is mostly industrial buildings and Rockwell is king of them all, so this massive representation of industry and mechanics looking beautiful was quite a sight to behold.

It reminded me that a change in perspective is sometimes exactly what we need in order to help us think about improving our cities.

One of the most basic examples of this is taking a walk. If you’ve never, for instance, walked to get your groceries, walked to work, or walked to drop your child off at school, it can be an utterly eye opening activity. Please try it. I guarantee you will find at least one building or view you’ve never noticed before. You might even run into a friend coming down the sidewalk. The differences between traveling from point A to point B in a car and walking to get from one place to another are numerous and significant. Biggest of all, you’re forced to interact with your city instead of viewing it from behind glass at high speeds (plus you get exercise and fresh air). You start to understand the delineations of neighborhoods, the need for green space and the history of the architecture around you. You start to comprehend what many of your neighbors go through every day if they cannot afford a car or choose not to use one for whatever reason. That change in perspective is invaluable.

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For me, seeing that view of the sun hitting the Rockwell Automation building gave me a new perspective on all these hulking buildings, chain link fences and billowing smoke I am surrounded by in my office. They are, after all, a part of the city too, just as much as the trendy coffee shops in other neighborhoods. Historically, in towns across the country, residents and governments have tried to exile industrial buildings to the edge of their towns or put them outside the city limits altogether. That’s certainly why Rockwell is in this particular location on the south side of Milwaukee. However, this city has since grown up around the industrial zone so that now there are houses and schools just blocks away from auto-part factories and machine manufacturers.

Last week, that moment of sunlight made me I realize I kind of like this about Milwaukee. It’s not every city where you can actually see the industry that is helping your city run, the companies that your livelihood was built on—that generations of people have worked in to support their families. Most cities separate usage so strictly that you might never know where the factories in your town are, or if they exist at all. Now, obviously it’s no good to have toxic fumes wafting into schoolyards, but those fumes shouldn’t be permitted in any area of a city—no matter who’s is hanging around there. Ideally, parents who work in these factories can walk over and pick their kids up after school in a matter of minutes. How great is that?

Walkers Point has always been a solidly working class neighborhood, meaning that it is a neighborhood with jobs to do and affordable houses to live in. It is changing, no doubt; employment has moved overseas and upscale restaurants have begun to take advantage of the cheap, empty buildings in the neighborhood. Nonetheless, I am hopeful that the neighborhood can grow without losing its history. Clearly, the Rockwell Automation Building isn’t going anywhere.

That’s a bit of a rambling way to say that a little sunlight can do a world of good in opening our eyes to the possibilities around us. And, as winter slowly fades, I know there’s more sunlight on the way.


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A Glance at 2014

This is probably the longest time I’ve gone without blogging, but it was a much needed rest, in the midst of holidays, travel, a busy season at work, and planning for the future. I’m back with a recap of 2014, including favorite posts from each month.

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In January, I was fighting it out through a deep, snowy New York City winter. I wrote Young Wanderers: Where My Generation is Headed and How We’re Getting There, a reflection on what it’s like to come of age during this economic recession, and all the expectations that are placed on young people.

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In February, I had spent enough time in NYC to have learned a few things (like moving quickly and dressing for all occasions) and I shared those, along with a few areas for improvement.

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In March, I wrote an in depth piece in two parts, regarding what’s wrong with the homeless shelter system in America and how we can change that picture. It was inspired by the work of my friend Abbilyn Miller.

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In April, as spring warmed up and I began to consider where I’d be going after my New York program finished, I created a graphic to help analyze the pluses and minuses of different modes of transportation. I still find it useful today.

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May brought with it the creation of this essay entitled “I Don’t Buy It: Ethical Consumption in the 21st Century. It was written truly from the heart, about the immoral system of global production, which we are all implicated in. I also offered some ways I attempt to consume in an ethical manner. It was my most popular post of all time.

Milwaukee's Third Ward in Winter

In June, I wrote about the city I was planning to move to: Milwaukee, WI. I talked about the transitions it is experiencing and the many ways it contradicts itself economically, culturally and architecturally. It was a helpful reflection in preparation for coming back to the Midwest, and it reflected a transition that many cities are currently undergoing.

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In July, after coming back home to Minneapolis for my birthday, I wrote a quick profile of one of my favorite neighborhood bars. I hope you’ve had a chance to find your favorite neighborhood bar in whatever city you live in.

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In August, I spent time discussing a topic that’s not really polite dinner conversation but is an important issue: bathrooms. Specifically public restrooms and the lack thereof in certain cities, and how that effects different segments of the population.

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By September, I was settling into a new apartment with my partner. I also had the chance to interview my cousin Christina about her life in Richmond, VA, particularly about what it’s like to have a biracial family in a southern city. An interesting discussion about education, health care and differences between the South and North ensued.

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In October, I started writing for the online city journal, Urban Milwaukee. My column profiles a new intersection in Milwaukee every week, crisscrossing the city and getting to know its diverse neighborhoods one by one. You can read all my articles thus far here.

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Finally, in November I seriously considered getting a car…but after weighing the positives and negatives, I came down firmly on the side of maintaining my bus/walk lifestyle. I feel healthier than ever and I know my city in a way I never would if I spent all my travel time inside a metal vehicle. I hope my essay helps you analyze whether cutting your car out of your life might be beneficial to you too!

Now here we are in December. It’s been a year of huge transitions. Last January, I set some simple, natural goals: Get the next job, get to the right place geographically, and keep figuring out what I should be doing. I can confidently say I have met all those. I am working to end homelessness–a goal that I believe is central in the fight for economic justice and an end to poverty. I am living in Milwaukee, WI–a city that is new, yet familiarly Midwestern, and feels like home because my partner is here with me. I am continuing to figure out where my future leads, whether that looks like grad school, government work, or a new city. Regardless, I know 2015 will be an adventure.

My current goals for the year ahead include getting to know more people in Milwaukee, cooking at least one recipe from all my cookbooks, applying to grad school, getting a cat, and of course, writing more great content for this blog.

A few other notes as we look back on this year:

The most important thing I have to share as we close out the year is my thanks for everyone who reads this blog. Thank you for taking the time to consider these ideas, provide your feedback, ask questions and make your cities and towns better everyday. Have a wonderful new year! I’ll be back soon with some photos from a recent trip to Montreal.


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The Perfect Place

Lighthouse on Lake Michigan

We’re all searching for the perfect place right? Maybe some of us have given up on finding it and maybe some of us have already landed there, but I bet most of us are still stuck somewhere in between. I recently had a revelation about what makes up that perfect place, and it starts, like many revelations, on a plane.

A couple weekends ago, I snuck away from a hectic workweek to spend some quality time with my little brother at his college in Baltimore and on the flight back, I happened to have a layover in Minneapolis. As most of you know, I spent most of my life in Minneapolis (until college) and my parents, along with some of my very good friends, still live there. As the plane touched down in the Twin Cities, a calm, joyous feeling came over me—the sensation of coming home. I hope you are familiar with it. That feeling didn’t surprise me, but the sensation I had when I left the airport for Milwaukee an hour later did.

For some reason, I didn’t experience the ache of leaving home. Instead, as my next flight took off for Milwaukee, I felt an even greater sense of the good place I have found myself in there. It’s not that Milwaukee’s a particularly special city nor even a world-class city (yet), but rather, that it is the right city for me now—first and foremost because of its proximity and similarity to my home.

Throughout my time in college in Walla Walla, WA, I constantly missed home. It would take me an entire day’s worth of travel–at least twelve hours and several hundred dollars–to get home to Minneapolis so I only went for a handful of holidays. Worse still, Walla Walla felt nothing like my hometown: it was small where Minneapolis was big, a desert while Minneapolis was in the land of 10,000 lakes, and the culture was completely different. Everyone and everything I loved was far away. Of course this changed over time as I got to know people and immersed in school, but that feeling of homesickness never left me. I am convinced that it is because of the literal distance between me and my home, and between all those indicators of home like water, Midwestern food and family. The simple knowledge that something is close by and accessible can provide peace of mind.

And now I have that. I can hop on a plane leaving Minneapolis knowing that that home is still available to me whenever I need to go back. It won’t take me more than a half-day’s train or bus ride or a short flight to get there. Furthermore, Milwaukee has rivers and a big lake (Michigan) that I cross over or walk along on a daily basis. The way the Milwaukee River runs through the downtown means there’s a particular spot where I am compelled to stop every single time I’m walking to my boyfriend’s bar because it is just so beautiful I can’t not. Lights from the houses on the river reflect in the water, you can see the bridges that cross over it on streets up ahead, and little boats are tied to the shoreline, bobbing peacefully. I run along this river, and Lake Michigan too. Water is everywhere around me and it’s presence comforts.

Maybe that’s a little bit what home feels like. It doesn’t have to be the place you grew up in, or the place where all your fond memories happened. It just needs the essence of those locations, and proximity to them. I’m not ready to move back to Minneapolis yet, but I’m glad I’ve found a place that feels a little like it. That’s enough for now.


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The Magical Town of Stars Hollow

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“Grandma, you will be missing the true Stars Hollow experience if you don’t walk.” –Rory Gilmore (Season 1, Episode 19).

I have a confession to make: I never watched Gilmore Girls in my childhood, so I have been making up for lost time over the last month thanks to Netflix (and I still have many more delightful months ahead of me). Pretty much since the first episode, I’ve been fascinated by the urban setting of the TV show—the idyllic, walkable town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. Allow me, then, this interlude post in which I’ll break it down and talk about just how lovely—and mythical—it is. For those of you who haven’t seen the show, I trust that you’re probably not going to be persuaded based on just one blog post, so you can go ahead and skip reading this. (That being said, I do urge you to examine the settings of your favorite TV shows more closely, as I’m sure you’ll be able to make some interesting observations about urbanism there.) But for those who have watched Gilmore Girls, well, I think you’ll see what I’m getting at.

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First, a summary. I’ll say right off the bat that I’ve only watched Season One thus far (please no spoilers in the comments) so I will only be speaking about Stars Hollow, where the main characters—mother and daughter duo, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore—reside. Stars Hollow is a charming, New England village. It boasts affordable housing (for example, a single mother who manages an inn can pay for a two-story Victorian), friendly neighborhood shops where everyone knows your name, a central gathering place in the form of the town square, and walkable streets in which kids can visit their friends after school and grandmothers can safely take a morning stroll.

This is an old-school small town that has yet to be corrupted by the trappings of mid-century “improvement” like wider roads, parking lot requirements and strip malls.* Never once do we see a McDonald’s or a department store in Stars Hollow. We rarely even see Rory or Lorelai in a car, except when they need to travel outside the town to visit relatives or get to Rory’s school. Stars Hollow is picturesque and peaceful.

Lest anyone think—judging by the posts on this blog—that I have no respect for small towns and only value the metropolitan lifestyle, you should know that I’ve lived in small towns before: one, Walla Walla, WA, which was rather depressing and definitely not a good place for me, and two, Ballyvaughan, Ireland, which was a wonderful, magical place. I can go into what’s wrong with Walla Walla from my perspective later, but the point is that I’ve seen the beautiful side of the small town life. It’s residents who all know each other, favorite local cafes, peace and quiet, and the ability to walk everywhere.

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Stars Hollow certainly captures that. Everyone seems comfortable. They have a history with one another and with the town. They may leave for school or for travel, but most will come back because they love the place. They also love and support each other. For instance, there’s an entire episode that centers on a funeral for a neighbor’s beloved cat, at which the entire town is in attendance. Naturally, this closeness also results in some comical nosiness from various villagers constantly trying to get the latest gossip, which some people might find annoying. But by and large, who among you has watched Gilmore Girls and not, at one point or another, wished you could have coffee at Luke’s, or buy grocery’s from Doose’s Market, or stroll through the town square?

Stars Hollow is pure magic, and of course, it’s fictional. But we can learn from this fairytale place by reflecting on what we love about it, and then slowly working to make the places where we live in real life, look a little more like magic.

* As café owner, Luke Danes, states in Season 1, Episode 20: “No malls. I hate malls. They underpay employees. They sell overpriced merchandise. They contribute to urban sprawl. They encourage materialism. And the parking’s a horror.”

Image sources: one, twothree 


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Who is my Neighbor?

Who is my neighbor?

“Who is my neighbor?” This question, posed by a crafty lawyer in the Gospel of Luke invites Jesus to launch into one of his most famous parables of the Good Samaritan. (For those unfamiliar with the story: A Jewish man is walking along a road when he is suddenly robbed and beaten up by thieves. While he is lying in the ditch, two people whom we would assume to be helpful simply pass him by. In the end, a Samaritan—a person of a different race, with whom the Jews had very poor relations—comes to the injured man’s aid, binding his wounds and giving him money to stay at a nearby inn while he recuperates.) When he has finished telling this parable, Jesus turns the question back on the lawyer and asks, “Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” to which the lawyer replies, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus says, “Go and do likewise” (NRSV).

I tell you this, not because I want to preach to you, or even because I want to talk about religion at all. Rather, I bring this up because that repeated question, “Who is my neighbor?” bears relevance for cities and neighborhoods.

Is a neighbor the person next door and across the street? That would be simple.

Does my entire neighborhood contain my “neighbors”? Linguistically, that would make sense.

Can I consider everyone living in my city a potential neighbor? This would mean a whole lot of neighbors.

Are business owners, cops and teachers my neighbors too, or just the people who live in the houses nearby? If they’re all neighbors, how do I get to know them in different ways?

After the Strong Towns National Gathering in which many of the participants challenged and encouraged one another to get to know their neighbors better, I realized I needed to first figure out “Who is my neighbor?” The passage from Luke helps me broadly define the term. If we were to follow the invitation of the Gospel passage, and the invitation of my fellow Strong Citizens last weekend—which is truly the invitation of any neighborhood that lacks community—we should show compassion, friendliness and warmth toward those around us. That means whomever we encounter in our daily lives. The aid pushing the elderly man at the senior center across from your office, the rambunctious children running around your grocery store with their tired mother, the fast-walking business man in a suit who passes by your house on his way to the bus every the morning, the immigrant couple that runs your laundromat, the teenager who makes your sandwich at the deli counter. These are the people around us and they deserve our kindness. One by one, person by person, block by block, these small acts add up to more pleasant neighborhoods and towns.

This week, as I have been intentional about saying hello to my neighbors on my way to work, in the grocery store, at my volunteering shift, and in the hallways of my apartment, I’ve discovered a few things:

  1. It’s harder than it looks. (And we already know this because we don’t do it very often.) First, it’s hard to be the one initiating. Most of the time when we’re walking outside on our own, we close ourselves off to the elements, process thoughts within our heads, and keep to our own business. So, it’s challenging for me to step out of that every single time I see someone (especially because I’m somewhat introverted) and say “Hello.” It’s also hard because the response from others is not always positive. I don’t know about your neighborhood, but in mine, people tend to keep their heads down. They don’t expect a stranger to speak to them, so when it happens, they sometimes take so long to process the occurrence that they can barely muster a reply before I’ve walked past. None of my neighbors have replied rudely to me—they just haven’t always replied with a cheery “Hello” right back. The two instances of pleasant greetings that stand out to me from the last week were from a young boy coming out of school, and an older man smoking a cigar on his front stoop. Unfortunately, most of the young people in my demographic are plugged into their iPhones or generally aloof. I’m trying my best to move against that stereotype.
  2. It helps to have a buddy. I’m not the most outgoing person, but I have plenty of friends who are. I like to be intentional when I’m with them about taking those leaps to talk to strangers, which I might not otherwise take alone, knowing that I have a friend at my side to join in the conversation.
  3. This is the beginning. Once I get my hello’s down and start recognizing faces, then I should move on to asking names. Saying hi to people doesn’t feel like it’s doing much, unless it encourages others to say hi too. I’m hoping to contribute to a community that feels warm and welcoming. Last week, without my doing anything, a nice woman struck up a conversation while we waited together at the bus stop. Her first comment was the simplest, “How about this warm weather we’re having?” but it led us to discuss our jobs, recent events in the city and the wild antics of the football fans  here. Later that evening, I caught a glimpse of the same woman standing in the check cashing spot near my apartment, confirming that she’s a resident of the neighborhood. Next time I see her (for all I know, it might happen today while I’m waiting for the bus again), I’ll definitely find out her name.
  4. We have nothing to lose. Being friendly is the simplest way to make our neighborhoods better. Once you get past the initial hurtle of opening your mouth, it’s smooth sailing. Only good can come of this.

 
Does knowing your neighbors come naturally to you? If you live in a neighborhood like that, I’d love to hear about it. I’d also love to hear about your experiences talking to your own neighbors. Will you take the challenge?


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The Magic of Summer Saturdays

Larsens Fish Market, Menemsha, Martha's Vineyard

Picture the last time you had a truly wonderful Saturday this summer.

I think summer Saturdays are magical. The city wakes up in waves, with the rising of the sun inviting the first surge of dog-walkers and joggers out onto the sidewalks and into the parks. A few hours later, older couples and families with children venture down the block to their neighborhood coffee shop or bakery, lingering over the last muffin crumbs on the plate, chatting with neighbors and friends. The farmers’ markets set up their white tents and welcome the next wave of shoppers, eager for fresh produce and conversation. Saturdays are open with possibility. If you’re a kid, you might choose to play at the local park or run around the neighborhood with your friends. Adults might finally take time for their hobbies, reading books from the library, working on building projects, practicing musical instruments or sharpening their basketball skills. As the day comes to a close, we dive into cooking comforting meals for our families, or heading out to the neighborhood diner for a burger or pizza. Sunday hasn’t come yet—with its pressures of the impending Monday and chores at hand—and the workweek is melting away. The city is alive, but calm and present.

I tell this story of the magical summer Saturday because, to me, it is a perfect picture of what cities and towns could be all week long, and it’s proof that they’re capable of it. Even in my little college town of Walla Walla, WA, which was empty and quiet six days of the week, Saturdays always brought a new energy and vibrance into the space. In particular, here are a few of the positive summer Saturday trends I’ve noticed in cities all over the country, and would love to see blossom throughout the week:

  • We choose to walk or bike instead of drive. With more time on our hands and quite likely, an exhaustion from driving back and forth to work all week, we often choose to stick closer to home and use our feet to get where we need to go. The environment is better off and so is our health.
  • We frequent local businesses and markets in our neighborhoods. We get our shopping done without having to jump in the car, and they get our business more than they might during the week. It’s a win-win.
  • We linger. We hang out at cafes, at parks playing ball, and on the waterfront, feeling a sense of calm and starting to notice everything our towns have to offer.
  • Some of us choose to spend our weekends caring for our gardens and houses (if we have them). It may not always be fun, but it transforms our cities into beautiful, inviting places.
  • We visit with our neighbors, friends and family members. We bake pie and take it to grandma’s house where we enjoy an afternoon snack and share stories from the week. We beckon our neighbors across the street to join us on the porch for a glass of lemonade or beer. This warmth is extended towards others because a day of rest gives us the time and energy to do so.

What each of these aspects point towards is an atmosphere of leisure and plenty, which enables us to support local businesses and spend time with one another on a deeper level than we do during the hecticness of the week. Saturday can be the day when we engage in simple but powerful community-building activities like beautifying our streets and actually saying “hi” to our neighbors when we encounter them on the block. These actions incrementally add up to more positive places.

I realize I’m being idealistic right now, and that on many weekends, Saturdays look a lot different from this. Maybe they’re full of driving the kids from music lessons to soccer practice to Target. Maybe Saturday means going to work. Maybe Saturdays seem like an endless list of chores and tasks that just won’t let up. But maybe also, you yearn for a weekend that is more peaceful and warm. If our cities looked and felt like this all week long, we could have that. I understand we can’t all play at the park when it’s 20 degrees out, or sit around sipping beer when there’s work to be done, but we don’t need to completely give ourselves over to the regiment of to-do lists or weather or whatever else might distract us from living the lives we want to lead.

If we took simple steps like utilizing public spaces more often, frequenting our local businesses, and walking instead of driving on occasion, we could welcome that Saturday spirit into our everyday lives. It takes nothing more than a reorientation of mindset.

So what do you think? Can we live like it’s Saturday all week long?


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The New York Files

Rachel Q at the High Line

As my departure from New York City nears (1.5 weeks left!), I’m doing a lot of packing and a lot of goodbyes – to both places and people. It’s a busy time, as any move is, but I wanted to take a moment to share with you a slice of the posts inspired during my year here.

  • My first big reflection came in the form of this essay entitled, “My Role in Gentrification.” It’s still something I think about every day here, and my insights about this key urban issue will stick with me in cities far beyond New York.
  • Soon after arriving, I realized the need to cultivate calm and quiet in this bustling place, so I wrote about how to live a simple life in a complicated city.
  • I also faced some moments where I wasn’t so thrilled to be in New York.
  • In November, I reflected upon my family’s history coming to this country from Germany during the Holocaust, and settling in a neighborhood very near to where I live in New York City. And I recognized how it affects me to this day.
  • By February, I’d been here long enough to have built a knowledge base of skills for New York City life, as well as some areas I could still stand to improve upon (For the record, I can report that I definitely got better at #1 and #3, but I have made my peace with the fact that I will never successfully walk in 3-inch heels all day.)
  • In the spring, I shared a list I had been working on all year: my New York bakery list! I sampled so many tasty treats over the last year and it was fun to have this little quest to guide me. I ended up continuing the quest for my remaining months here, trying the pastries at Baked in Brooklyn, Bouchon Bakery and more.
  • I enjoyed writing this short piece about Why I Love My Neighborhood, and I invite you to think and comment on that topic over there.
  • Finally, I closed with my ultimate NYC guide last week. Here are Parts 1 and 2.
  • For a complete list of all New York City posts, click here.

 

With that, I’m off to Milwaukee, WI. It’ll a brand new adventure and I can’t wait. Thanks for reading along during my time in New York and you can be sure I’ll have a whole new batch of insights in the coming month.

Photo credit: My friend Matthew Morriss