New Urbanism, among other movements, strives to make a community more walkable, while establishing a strong sense of community. While the design of New Urbanism communities can create an environment in which pedestrians are more welcome and neighbors can easily gather; this does not always promote a sense of togetherness. For various reasons, providing the means for a united community does not create the expected result.
While many impediments abound for the New Urbanist movement, focusing and developing basic building blocks for a strong community foundation are essential. Is it possible that a sense of community starts with something as basic as the feeling of family and a place to belong?
A neighbor of mine, Linda Stephen, Account Manager with IWPR Group, introduced me to a book published by Taunton Press. Pocket Neighborhoods: creating small-scale community in a large-scale world by Ross Chapin. This book addresses ways that strong communities can be developed and nurtured. While the neighborhoods in this book are small, perhaps elements and examples used to create these communities can be applied on a larger scale, or possibly linked together, to create more viable and sustainable developments.
Of course, some of the current issues such as transportation and employment still need to be addressed, but what if multiple small-scale communities within a larger area came together like cousins at a family reunion? A stronger sense of many small communities might develop into a desire to support a larger unity of togetherness, to build upon strengths and help support one another’s weaknesses.
What kind of sense of community do you see in your area? What do you see as ties to help bind communities together? What role do you see urban planners, architects, and landscape architects taking to support this type of movement?