Category Archives: Cohousing

Whatever happened to ‘go outside and play’? — I’ll tell you! :-)

CNN: Whatever happened to ‘go outside and play’?

THE PROBLEMS
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(I think everyone actually knows this, but here’s my list:)
1) More families with 2 working parents.
2) More TV and video game options. Yes, they existed when we were kids, but not as many or as interesting
3) More organized activity options. There are many many more options for organized activities these days.
4) Parents sense (right or wrong) that if not #3, then #2… so “organized activities” is the lesser of two evils.
5) More homework — depends on where you live
6) Parents worried about their kids being kidnapped/abused.
7) More suburban sprawl — hard to get places on foot or bike safely
8) New playgrounds are boring — where are the BIG slides, swings, zip lines and dangerous teeter-totters and merry-go-rounds?
9) New playgrounds are built in inaccessible locations. Rare is the good playground in a walkable location.
10) FORGOT THIS ONE: Divorce rate is higher (meaning more single parents usually meaning more daycare)

Some of this stuff is catch-22/chicken-and-egg stuff. When kids aren’t around and playing in the neighborhood, it encourages other parents to schedule organized activities or plug kids in to the screen too.

THE SOLUTIONS
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NEIGHBORHOOD FIXES
– Consider cohousing or moving to a denser/slower neighborhood. Structure matters. When driveways are long and people drive straight into garages, it’s harder to strike up conversations and have kids to run into each other. Amazing neighborhoods with kids running around still do exist, but it’s rare, and sometimes fleeting.
– Playborhood.com — alter your current neighborhood starting with your own house/yard (see also book: “Reinventing Community”) Be the change.
– Move somewhere rural enough that kids can ride around on their own on horses. My wife as well as many other people (in online comments) have had amazing childhood freedom with horses.

KID FIXES (bring the kids somewhere)
– Sudbury Schools — e.g. Sudbury Valley School — as a way to recreate the “childhood of your youth” with like-minded families. Bring the kids to the neighborhood. Nothing beats this!
– Drop-in unstructured camps — e.g. Stow, MA is offering an unstructured camp in Summer 2013. At a playground/huge field/basketball court/pavilion area with “counselors” there to help, but not to “do anything”.
– Skate Parks — My kids get bored at normal playgrounds fast. But at skate parks (with skateboards, bikes, scooters) they can often stay for hours. With lots of different aged kids. Up through teenagers and above. Age-mixing is amazing stuff. (Like at Sudbury Valley School I am always impressed with the older kids and their interactions with the younger kids. They really step up the respect and responsibility. And fun!)

– Lakeside beaches — nearby lakes with town beaches you often get kids playing together who don’t know each other at first for hours (if the parents can stay that long) Ocean-side beaches usually don’t have this same level of intermingling. But sometimes.
– Camps – there are some amazing day camps and overnight camps that are unstructured enough that they give the feel of this freedom and responsibility.
– Family Camping Trips – same idea as kid camps, but with the parents along. Not necessarily seeing each other all day, but together maybe at meals and in the evenings.

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Filed under camp, Cohousing, kids -- freedom and responsibility, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Drive to the library? Yeah right.

Careful towns of the world out there… before you spend lots of money on new or revamped libraries. Unless you are in a city, or near a walkable and vibrant town center, they are a tough sell, even with cheap $3.50/gasoline. And how long will that last?

Here’s the math for me in suburban MA:
- Distance to library: 5.2 miles. 10.4 miles round trip
- Our minivan — let’s say I get 20.8 MPG to make the math simple.

So that’s:

10.4 miles * 1/20.8 MPG * $3.50 $/gallon = $1.75 per trip assuming there is no overlap with other errands, which is likely given the route.

And that’s just the cost of the gas of course. If you use the ~$0.50/mi that the US government uses for taxes for business mileage (accounting for the full cost of ownership) then that’s 10.4 miles * $0.50/mi = $5.20 per trip.

And then add in the cost of the time. Let’s say 20 minutes of driving.

It’s a tough sell. Not just the library. All of suburbia. It’s ultimately kinda in serious doo-doo, ain’t it? James Howard Kunstler is probably on to something.

Counter-points and followups:

1) I say all the above as someone who has LOVED libraries in the past. But I guess the difference was: 1) that was pre-interweb and 2) that was libraries I walked to or rode my bike to (the Amherst Jones Library, and the UMass/Amherst Dubois library)

2) I am fond of the idea of the library being a “town center” that is more about ideas and people than being about media (paper or digital). Related concepts are Sudbury Schools, the Transition Town movement (tool sharing, etc), Cohousing.

3) The article linked below talks about “Library as Platform” which to me is basically acknowledging that there are increasing numbers of private services we use which “out do” libraries in terms of connecting us with media. Amazon. Google Books. Goodreads. “The Library” *could* do all of that. But how?
LINK

4) PS. And what about all those duplicate public school libraries! What a shame! What if all the schools in town were clustered around the town’s libraries and they all shared! I know, I know… one can’t turn back the clock on sprawling suburban development. It’s just sorta a shame.

5) Speaking of poorly designed public resources… I’ll talk about the placement and design of playgrounds sometime soon. Ugh. Almost always another huge missed opportunity. But there are some good ones!

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Filed under car, cities, Cohousing, community, erik-green, green, libraries, local, money, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Legislating Feelings

“One of the reasons Endenburg’s sociocratic process for decision-making works is that it doesn’t require anyone to love each other. You can love if you want, if you have time, if you can, but you don’t have to. It isn’t required to create a harmonious living, working, or anything community. Harmony is about agreements that allow everyone to live their own lives happily and enthusiastically.”
Sharon Villines, 12/11/2010 mentioning Sociocracy in context of an online discussion.

“[W]e always felt that while you can legislate rights, you can’t legislate feelings. If an institution promises a democratic structure and respect for children’s rights, one can see rather quickly whether it is delivering the goods. But if it promises tender-loving-care, one can never know what it truly means.”
– Hanna Greenberg, The Sudbury Valley Experience, 1992, p178

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Filed under Cohousing, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School