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The storm was harder on people who live in places like this.

I’ve had a lot of fun this weekend. The snow has been a novelty, has resulted in a day off work, and my ability to go about daily business has not been particularly impacted. On Friday evening I walked out my front door, went less than a block around the corner, and ate a lovely dinner at a neighborhood restaurant. On Saturday I walked four blocks to take part in a giant community snowball fight. On Sunday I went out to lunch and ran errands to CVS and the grocery store while out. I haven’t had need to use the Metro, but since I live where it runs underground, using it for longer-distance transportation was an option. I didn’t lose my power, but had it gone out I would have been able to kill time at any number of nearby cafes or bookstores.

Contrast that with the experience of my family, living out in the suburban wilds of Fairfax County. They’ve been trapped in their house since Friday, literally unable to leave. Their subdivision is two miles from the closest store and accessible only by car. Their 45-foot-wide “local” two-lane street wasn’t plowed until Sunday morning, and once it came the plow just made things worse, since it only got one lane and left a giant snowdrift between the driving lane and my family’s parked cars. Of course there have been no snowball fight-esque community events within walking distance because there is no community to speak of; population density is too low to support such a thing. Their next-door neighbors are friendly, sure, but there aren’t enough people within walking distance to support any kind of neighborhood event. Luckily, they weren’t among those who lost power. Stuck at home without TV, internet or heat would have been really miserable.

Of course, one shouldn’t base life decisions on the possibility of a freak event. A once-a-century storm isn’t necessarily a good basis from which to determine how we shape communities. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that because of how our respective communities are shaped, a storm that has had nothing but positive effects for me has completely put my family’s lives on hold.

February 8th, 2010 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: urbandesign



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