Cars and community

This post is kind of random, just kind of brought on by some experiences from this week and a book I’m reading.

I’ve been spending a lot of time at my parent’s house due to a family illness, which has put me more in the car traffic pattern than normal. My typical commute, by car or bike, is pretty short. 7 easy miles of fairly slow streets – about 15 minutes.

Commuting from my folks house is a little longer, and uses busier streets. A more intense commute. More people driving like assholes. More people taking unnecessary chances with their driving.

My normal commute is really pretty tranquil, so the alternate commute is really a wake up call, just reaffirming how stupid our cities are laid out.

Over the last week I’ve been reading this book It’s a Sprawl World After All. The book is about, obviously, suburban sprawl, and its negative effects on our national culture — the destruction of “genuine communities”. Anyway, I’m about 2/3 the way through the book. The book is a little repetitious. I don’t disagree with most of the issues he discusses, but there is a lot of fluff. A lot of “filler” text. But I digress…

Experiencing this commute while reading this book has been kind of weird. We’ve been lucky enough to arrange our normal, day-to-day life with very little commute. So this week I had a chance to observe the crazy lifestyle, lack of civility, and overall stupidity described in the book first hand.

Now, on the other hand, our neighborhood had our yearly picnic today. We have a really good, voluntary neighborhood association. Not the kind that enforces dead restrictions, but rather one that promotes a sense of community within our area, known Greenwood Hills, in Richardson, Tx.

Turnout was good, and its just always nice to get people together like that. While we do live in an inner-ring suburb, it is an older suburb, and it feels practically urban compared to the newer, outlying communities. We can actually walk to the grocery store, pharmacy, nearby schools, banks, etc. The firefighters from the neighborhood fire station were there with a fire truck to show people, several of our city council members were there.

So while we aren’t Mayberry, we do try to get to know each other and have some interaction.