TED Conversations

Ziska Childs

Freelancer, united scenic artists


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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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    Apr 5 2012: Peace and Quiet. Being able to hear a pin drop outdoors in the middle of the night. Communing with the planets and stars with a sky that is unobstructed by buildings and city light. Truly seeing the Milky Way in all it's Glory for the first time, from my own back yard. Living within 2 blocks of a HUGE nature preserve. Sleeping in - in the mornings and taking naps in the afternoon. Asking to borrow a bail of hay to feed an abandoned horse. (a Real Estate crisis victim) And getting the entire communities help, support and admiration. Knowing exactly who lives where, within 500 yards of you, by name. Sitting in on Community Council meetings and having your voice listened to and more than that, having their backing when a problem arises with a public utility. (VERIZON!) These are just a few of those things - like Julie Andrews sings about: My favorite things. . . ."and then I don't feel so bad". The human condition is alive and well - and living in the far reaches, outside the cities. Very inexpensive homes in my neighborhood lately . . . .(?)

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