Thursday, November 18, 2010

Living in the City

I have lots of views and reasons for wanting to live in a city, and more particular views about living in my city, Flint.  For this post, I'm motivated by Carla Saulter's essay on Grist about moving to the suburbs. In her short essay, she has lots of great reasons to consider living in a city.  I encourage you to read it.  She has one paragraph that I want to focus on here:
As more people are living in close proximity to each other, more resources can be shared. Neighborhood parks replace large backyards; coffee shops and community centers replace home offices and playrooms; public libraries replace extensive personal libraries; and nearby theaters replace media rooms. Other resources, like power and sewer lines, can also be delivered more efficiently to densely populated communities.
I often wish I had a larger house with a larger yard.  I grew up in a relatively banal, social-climbing suburb outside Los Angeles and I am comfortable with ranch houses, large yards, and privacy fences.  But I am reluctant to move because I love where we live.  I'm not ready to give that up, and here is where Saulter's paragraph strikes me.  I often say that because we love our neighbors and neighborhood so much our "yard" extends far beyond what the Flint and Michigan say it is.  Our neighborhood is like a public space.  This past summer, I think I spent more time pushing my kids on my neighbors' swings than in our own backyard.  We play tag in our front yard and into our neighbors', and because we are friends and they are generous, my front yard is now twice as big (and I only have to mow half).  We share from our garden with our neighbors and they share with us.  And now that winter is coming, I can look forward to taking a snow-blowing break to chat with a neighbor who is doing the same.  I could go on with examples, but you see where I'm going.

I've lived quite a few places as I've moved my way east, and one thing I've learned is that finding neighbors you like is unusual and a blessing.  I don't mean that I'm cordial with my neighbors.  I mean I'm friends with them. I like them. We have beers together.  We hang out in a backyard while kids swim in the pool.  Heck, one family even encourages us to use the pool when they're gone.  How many of you have neighbors that don't mind you on their swings when they get home from work or want you to use their pool when they're gone (or home for that matter).  And did I mention I like them; they're my friends. 

And because of this, I think I have the biggest backyard in Flint, and they do too.  Why would we leave this?  Why would I want my kids to grow up anywhere else?  When people ask my why I live in Flint, I sometimes wonder why they don't. 

Tell me your favorite neighborhood story.  What do you love about where you live?


  1. I grew up in Davison, a small town about 10 miles east of Flint, in a neighborhood just like yours. It was a wonderful experience and it's why I choose to still live in Davison as an adult. There's nothing like a house you love, in a place you love, with good neighbors/friends!

  2. Great post. Brings back fond memroies of the old neighborhood. Makes me think about coming back to our little farm on Ridgelawn.

  3. You like us, not just the pool? Shoot - I just lost a bet . . .

  4. When we were trick or treating with the kids this year we were in a nice neighborhood in our town. I felt such a nice sense of community. I mentioned to my husband that we could downsize to that neighborhood and I would be happy. I like the idea of the shared resources. It's not that we don't have a nice community on our lake, they are all very fun, and we have neighbors who have become more like grandparents to my children than neighbors, but there just aren't that many people or other children. I suppose there are pros and cons of any living arrangement.

  5. @ Steve: Yea, your other half and I are splitting the winnings. Thanks.

    @ Mary: There are pros and cons to living where we do, but we really, really like the pros.