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The exciting news in my life right now is that this week we closed escrow on a new house, and moved into it this weekend!  Wow!  It has been an exhausting exciting joyful hardworking friend-full weekend! We are full of love and joy at our new house, and excited to be manifesting our vision of living with community through the cottage in the back which we will be renting out to our friend Karen who we love a lot! Joy!  And in the two days here we had many friends drop by and help unpack and bring us cheer — a special cheer to Leila and Matt for first night burritos, wine, fun, and unpacking. And while walking out for coffee we ran into our friend Octavian.  And while standing out the front door my old freshman roommate walked by on his way home.  I love the city and how full of community and friendship it is.  Our new neighbor baked us a tray of fresh biscotti.  Yah!

I really find this point interesting though — it seems to me that the culturally dominant view in America of urban living is that cities are full of strangers and that the crush of human density is full of confrontation and alienation.  The experience I’ve found in SF is that the urban center is full of friends and contact and connection.  Being out of the car and primarily walking and using public transit we are routinely encountering friends on the street, or the BART, or in cafe’s etc.  There is a deep joy in this, and a sense of belonging and community that comes from constantly unexpectedly encountering friends.  I really do feel that this is mostly the result of not driving and moving around in real human space.  It allows interaction to occur.  It creates the opportunity to see who you are walking past and stop and talk and change direction of motion to go on a new adventure with the friend you just encountered.  All the daily contact makes everyone, even the strangers, more open to talk to and create some brief connection in passing….

So, its really about the car — that seems to me to be the primary force of alienation and separation in our world today. The urban density enables one to move through life without the car being the primary means, and opens one up to connection, community, and the unexpected adventure.  The car still has its use — we still have our cars too — but that use is limited and occasional.

That is all I can write this week — I’m in motion moving.

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  1. Liz says

    Which freshman roommate???

    For the sake of argument…There’s another side of urbanity–that side that comes from being a woman walking around in place where many people are strangers. While chance meetings with friends are wonderful, they are not the only sort of chance meeting that happens in big cities. When I’m out and about, I am always on guard. Physically, my “on guard” state produces a tension and stiffness. How much that tension interferes with the fun of being out walking depends on my level of comfort in my surroundings.

    But no matter how comfortable I am in my neighborhood, I’m never “off” when I’m out in public. Cars create isolation for sure, but they also create safety or a reasonable facimile of it. I can lock the doors of my car, keep the windows rolled up, and I can put my foot down and remove myself quickly from a bad situation if I need to. I like that feeling–it makes me relaxed and comfortable.

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