Thursday, June 20, 2019
Home Sweet Neighborhood: Transforming Cities One Block At A Time, by Michelle Mulder. Orca Book Publishers. 2019. $19.95 ages 10 and up
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have great admiration for Orca's Footprints series. They remind each one of us that we can make a difference, no matter how small or big if we just get involved. Ms. Mulder has penned earlier books for this series, about cycling, light, water, trash, money and wildlife in cities. The writing is well-researched, often personal and very informative. I hope reading this will encourage interested readers to get into their communities and help make them more vibrant, inclusive, and satisfying.
Neighborhoods have lost some of their charm in past years. Busy people, demanding jobs, technology and other obligations keep families inside for much of the time. How do we change that? How do we get back to neighbors caring for neighbors, sharing friendship and comfort in good times and bad?
"Placemaking is an international movement dedicated to making
neighborhoods more personal and changing outdoor spaces to
draw people together. Kids are natural placemakers, building
tree forts, setting up lemonade stands and chalking hopscotch
squares onto sidewalks. Now adults are getting into the act too."
This descriptive book speaks to the importance of bringing back 'neighborhood', where people know and help each other with things big and small. When I was a kid we knew everyone in our neighborhood. If you didn't have enough flour for a cookie recipe, you asked a neighbor. Visits over coffee offered daily enjoyment and neighborhood gossip. Playing outdoors with our friends was the norm. One neighbor set up the family TV in the front yard for all the kids to watch. Scientists believe that humans are happier when they live in a strong and thriving community.
Ms. Mulder looks carefully at the historical significance of neighborhoods and community. She explains clearly how changes have been made to archaic laws, how simple acts have changed dangerous traffic patterns without stopping traffic, how knitting grandmothers on their lawn chairs have discouraged drug traffic in problem areas, and more. She explains that many small changes can have a huge impact on mental and physical health, on the environment, and on the general feeling of happiness because of being part of something bigger than ourselves.
The colorful, captioned photographs, the pleasing design and information boxes called Neighborhood Fact and My Happy Place are inviting and provide guidance for placemaking on a small scale. Once started, it isn't difficult to find other ways to improve the way we live. Story-filled and positive, it is an inspiration to any reader wanting to have an impact in their own community.
"Wherever you live, you've got everything you need to create a stronger community. With a little curiosity, a few smiles and some creativity, you can help turn your neighborhood into a place full of friendly faces ... a place that's more fun to live in than ever before!
Back matter includes acknowledgements, a list of print and online resources, a glossary and a comprehensive index.