Sunday, June 22, 2008

Is Generation X saving the "neighborhood"?

Recently, I wrote a post regarding whether Gen Xers will jump on the wagon back into dense urban cities with the Boomers and the Millennials. Futurist William Draves says that there is no saving the suburbs, which got me kind of bummed. The reason why? I associate "suburbs" with "neighborhoods" - because that's where I grew up and that's what we had.

I think a lot of Gen Xers associate "cities" with bleak, dying, crack-infested places because that's what a lot of cities had turned into when we were growing up in the 70s and 80s. I think that's why a lot of us have the same gut reaction: Why would I want to move my kids to the "city"?

Gen X writer Kathy English wrote a great article on what "neighborhood" means. She talked about what hers was like when she was growing up.

In my current neighborhood, there have been a lot of Xers who moved in with their kids in the last five years (five Gen X families - including mine - on the same street with kids under 10 years old). And now my neighborhood feels a lot more like the one I grew up in.

My kids run down the street to their friends house (actually across everyone's lawns, because we don't have side walks - nobody complains) to play. Sometimes they come home when they get pissed off at their friends, but then go back 15 minutes later after they get over it. Everyone knows who the mean old lady is and stays off her grass. And one of my daughter's favorite things to do is stand on our lawn and yell "Isaiah!" and see if the neighbor's dog comes running over (he usually does).

So my point is that Xers are bringing neighborhood back. And neighborhood has nothing to do with urban, suburban, or rural. It makes sense, because we are not the workoholics that the Boomers were at our age, so we have more than just work friends. We have neighbors.


Anonymous said...

I like your most recent post. "ISAIAH!" woof woof woof woof! How funny. Are you fully stocked with Scooby bones for such occasions? I like too,that in our neighborhood, the kids can do the same thing--run around to each other's houses, etc., and it's a casual thing. Exactly what it should be like!

Kristina said...

I think there are some suburbs though that are like little fortresses, where everyone disappears inside their attached garages and hangs out in their own, fenced backyards. We're good friends with one neighbor family but I still walk around on beautiful summer evenings with the kids and dog wondering...where IS everyone? No way of knowing the generation of those people hiding out. Our area seems to be in transition from Boomer-and-Older to GenX, though, as the older ones move away or die, and the young families move in.

I live in an old suburb. Back in the 80s it was a suburb to the Big Scary City, but nowadays the sprawl has continued eating up farmland to the south, so now we're the city and rich people are fleeing where *I* live. So it goes.

Mo Morrissey said...

I hate my neighbors...but then again that would probably be the same regardless of whether I lived in the city or suburbs. :)

I can't imagine living in a planned, HOA-type place. I like my house and the fact that I can hate my neighbors because they have their gaudy crap on their lawn...but I can too.

Gen X may be attempting to save the neighborhood, but damned if that $4.50 gas isn't standing in the way.

Nice work.