Replacing locks with culture
Some of us are in dialog about starting a new urban based community. This has me meditating on the differences and relative advantages of each setting. Urban communities can take advantage of local mass transit systems, cultural activities, and greater employment opportunities than rural regions. Cities are great to recruit from and find more friendly neighbors to ally with (this is a function of the absolute number of people in cities, it is not an editorial on the friendliness of urban dwellers). Rural communities can more easily grow their own food, have a smaller pollution exposure and a more relaxed lifestyle generally speaking.
But the big difference is locks. We are blissfully able to leave things unlocked in rural Virginia. This is not especially peculiar to the communes, many of our neighbors leave keys in their cars and leave their front doors unlocked. Several of our local friends don’t even have keys to their doors, having never needed them.
For a forgetful, sloppy person like myself this is a goddess send. It means the bag that i have left behind is almost certainly in the place i left it. It means i don’t worry when my son wanders off to play outside by himself for prolonged periods.
But what i think is that if we could measure the fear, sadness and distress that urban living create, we would likely evaluate it differently. i consider myself an urban rat – i love subways and crowds and density of experience and architecture. It strikes me as strange that i have been living rurally for so long. And my guess (from my experience with life long urban dwellers coming to visit rural communities) is that urban living is more toxic and psychologically problematic than we want to believe. Yet we deny this so we can keep living there.