Thursday, 27 September 2012
My suburb is a village in disguise
But where I live feels like a village.
When I used to work at a university there was a really interesting academic there doing research into how modern suburbs make people feel isolated. Overwhelmingly she found that it was our dependence on cars that stops us having a sense of engagement with our community.
That is certainly true for me.
Before I had babies I was worried that I would be lonely at home with kids ... not so far!
I walk so much with the pram and am often at the park, and the more I go outside in our area the more people I seem to recognise and/or know and it is really nice.
In fact I'm struggling to think of many nicer things to be able to give your kids than a sense of community and the knowledge that all around them are friendly people. How could that not make them feel save and connected?
My children are seriously early risers so we do a lot of early morning walking (usually in the direction of the local bakery which sells coffee and is open at 5.30am).
Everyone we walk past says hello - the earlier it is the more friendly the people are. There is a real sense of camaraderie before 6am!
Possibly they feel sorry for me pushing the double pram with yesterday's mascara smeared across my face and a coffee hungry glint in my eye.
On Sunday morning we met a lovely guy at the local bakery. His wife and kids had gone to church and he was locked out of the house. While he drank his coffee he and Wild Man had a long and involved conversation about dinosaurs while I tried to stop Princess running on to the road.
We'll probably never see him again but it is so nice to think that you can just meet good, nice people like that.
People talk a lot about isolation in suburbia, and I really do believe that that is the case for many people. It must be awful to feel alone while you are surrounded by people. But that definitely isn't the situation that I find myself in, and I truly think that if you want to know the people who live near you you need to get out of your car and walk.
And smile and say hi to the people who go past ... being friendly costs you nothing.
Do you feel lonely or are you finding that your suburb is actually a village in disguise?