Interesting experiment, blogging from a moving train enroute Lorton, Va, where we and our Honda Civic de-train and start the drive to Weehawken, NJ. There are no carbon-free ways to travel fast but this is somewhat lighter than two seats on a jet, lower on stress, and so far, very civilized. Dinner included — our seating at 7 — and the movie, Frozen, in the lounge at 9:15.
I’ve been reading F. Kaid Benfield’s People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities, on this trip. His collection of essays makes a very persuasive case for a new urbanism, in particular Chapter 18: Walk, Drink, Walk Back. It reminds me of how important a neighborhood hangout, the pub, tavern, or bar, can be in nurturing community coherence, resilience, and even much more. After all, it was exactly this sort of gathering place in Philadelphia where our Founders met to launch a new nation.
We had such a pub, Ted and Jo’s on 11th and Garden in Hoboken in the 90s. A genial host in Gerry Farrelly, comfort food of high quality, always someone to talk with about what was going on in our town. It was our hub, our safety net in an — at the time — edgy, not quite gentrified neighborhood, our home away from home. It had what Kaid Benfield (quoting community development consultant, Michael Hickey) calls a high ‘lingering index’, a measure of good old hanging out ‘that’s really at the heart of place-making.’ I’ve been looking for that kind of spot ever since. And I don’t think I’m alone in this.
Why does it matter even more today? “The more complete our neighborhoods, the less have to travel to seek out goods, services, and amenities. The less we have to travel, the more we can reduce pollution from transportation.”
Well, the lounge car is but steps from my seat tonight. With a little bit of luck there might be a craft beer available and perhaps a conversation with an interesting fellow traveler.
Check out Kaid Benfield at the Natural Resources Defense Council where he writes a blog on place-making and related subjects. Have a look at the newer LEED – ND standards. Tell me about your favorite watering hole.