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Ziska Childs

Freelancer, united scenic artists

TEDCRED 200+

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How do we get back the neighborhood?

Of course I'm referencing the 2012 TED prize The talk which inspired this question has been posted: Jen Pahlka talking about "Peace Corps for Geeks" aka- coding for government. One of the ideas in that talk which resonated for me was it's not about making the bureaucracy easier- it's about solving the problems. More often than not that means getting the bureaucracy out of the way and letting people be neighborly. "Adopt a fire hydrant"- shovel it out when there's a snow storm. That's pretty simple stuff and it promotes Community - with an upper case "C".

I've seen my own home town go from a place where I could walk to everything (the butcher the baker the candlestick maker) to one where there are 30,000 vehicle round trips a day. This is for a town of 6000 residents. The service providers drive in and out for work. The residents drive out and in to go to school, the hospital, the rec center and to find lower priced goods. Employee housing (also out of town-but closer) has resulted in a boost for the construction industry which increases the service trips in and out. Placing a transfer tax on real estate has favored flipping and cowboy development. I only mention this to emphasize that treating the symptom doesn't work and the unintended consequences can be devastating.

So, how do we get back the neighborhood? How do we get back the Community?

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    Mar 20 2012: I found comfort in concepts laid out in Jim Diers' Neighbourhood Power. He gives tips on how to engage people in projects, especially building neighbourhood "bumping places" where we come together and interact.

    I wonder if there is something fundamentally flawed in the process of developer to town submission to build. The developer does his best to build what we say we want. But our craving for georgeous indoor spaces and Privacy may come at the cost of engaging our neighbours.

    Might individuals, public service associations, and clubs be given the tools to put together coherent submissions for community projects - such as the ever-popular community garden - that the town can comprehend and support to implementation?
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      Mar 22 2012: If we can use what you and Tim Leisio are suggesting in tandem I think there's a high chance of success. IMO you're both right- the needs of the community give you the "laundry list" of what has to be built but there also needs to be a central idea which stitches it all together. We've been touching on this central theme with the recurring theme of "be kind to each other". The question becomes how do we reinforce that theme of kindness each time we implement a task on the laundry list?

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