To younger generations, “connectivity” means something altogether different than what it meant to our generation when we were kids. Jennifer Drugge has found it again in its old-fashioned form, and makes a case for the rest of us to follow.
“We need to enjoy each others’ company more.” I read that recently in an article about better quality of living and as a baby boomer who has been around for a long time now, it struck a chord. I decided to take a moment to reflect on the idea of enjoyment, which used to seem easier than it seems today. Or perhaps more to the point these days, why aren’t we stopping to enjoy each other’s company more? The reasons are myriad, but not insurmountable. It may seem difficult to find the time to connect and be connected, to be enriched and inspired, but we must each take the time and make the effort to do so. Where and how we live has a profound impact on our life’s enjoyment, both inward and outward.
Almost ten years ago, my husband and I made the decision to leave the hurried and harried Northeast and move to South Carolina. We bought a house in Habersham, a traditional neighborhood in what’s called the Low country. What we found, living in a new urbanist neighborhood, is a return to a community that truly has created a sense of place and has allowed us the time to seek and find that enjoyment. Baby boomers who remember who things “used to be” will understand what I’m talking about.
What we were searching for, perhaps without even realizing it, was a sense of connectivity, and I don’t mean the internet! Where we have chosen to live provides old-fashioned connectivity in so many different ways. The wide oak-lined boulevards, the narrow side streets, the sidewalks, the green spaces and parks, the private rear lanes, all create a pedestrian network that makes walking pleasurable. When we are encouraged to walk, we interact with our neighbors more; we stop to sit a minute on their porch and pass some time; we reconnect with our natural environment; and at a most basic level, we simply get some exercise. Our town’s walkability allows us to cut back on time in the car and allows us more time to spend with family and friends. All of which leads to happier and healthier individuals.
As I learned more about New Urbanism, I realized that sustainability is at the core of what gives us that sense of place, of connectivity, and simply of enjoyment. My wide front porch that shades my house, my tall windows that capture cool breezes when it is hot and bring in sunlight and warmth when it is cold, the efficient footprint of my house, all have a profound effect on my energy usage and my overall environmental impact.
To this day I can remember the sense of relief I had when I drove into our new town. After six weeks of looking at cookie-cutter developments and mediocre houses, we stumbled upon a place where the architecture and the natural beauty truly nourished me. Again, without fully realizing why, the smaller cottages, the wide front porches, the shared green spaces, all gave me a sense of place. Once we discovered New Urbanism, my husband and I found ourselves with the time necessary to enjoy each other’s company and that of our new friends and neighbors.