It takes a village

I was going to finally post about trees tonight, but unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I drove to town today and among the things I picked up was the Sunday NY Times. What kind of pathetic person spends $5 for a Sunday paper just because the puzzles are really interesting? The answer of course is me. I’m addicted to good puzzles. I love the NY Times Sunday crossword, but I can get that only a week or two late in the Oregonian. But they always have a bonus puzzle as well, and I can’t get those anywhere else.

But that’s truly a digression from the topic of this post.

There were two articles that I couldn’t help seeing as an interesting juxtaposition. The first, in the opinion section if I’m not mistaken, was about the walls various governments have built over the centuries–the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, the walls our armies are now building in Iraq and the Israelis are building around Palestinians, and so on. It’s hard to see these and not make the leap to gated communities in this country, to those who would wall themselves off from the hoi-polloi.

The second article was in the “Style” section. It was about new condominium buildings that featured common areas designed to maximize the interaction of residents, to create, if you will, a “village” of the condo owners. And these New Yorkers were talking about the wonder of actually getting to know other residents in their own buildings. Of course, these communities were somewhat self-selecting, since the condos atart at something approaching a million dollars each.

A couple of postings or so ago, I responded to Barbara in a comment about something I’d read on the impact of cities. I found the piece again today. It’s in a magazine called “The American Interest.” I have no idea where this magazine came from. I don’t remember ordering it. It arrived in my mailbox one day, but it’s interesting enough that I probably will subscribe.

The point of the article in question, however, was that for the first time ever, more of the world’s population lives in cities than live in rural settings. And cities have never been able to sustain themselves. When people move to cities, they stop having babies, at least in the quantity in which they’ve previously had them.

There was a lot more in the article than that, obviously, but this stuff has all started jiggling around in my brain and I need to think about the various ramifications for awhile.

I’ve read other stuff lately about the loss of the support system that a village provided. So I find it interesting that urban, standoffish New Yorkers (I’m not being rude, this is how they characterize themselves) are finding it necessary to recreate the culture of a village.

Lots of change, and I’m not quite sure what to think about it, but it’s fascinating.

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6 Responses to “It takes a village”

  1. whitishrabbit Says:

    It is fascinating, and what you said about cities not being able to sustain themselves, that sort of ties into a lot of things I’ve been reading. Population expansion used to be tugged around as a real problem for Americans specifically, and the human race, collectively. Now you won’t hear so much, everyone’s focused on global warming and stuff.

    What I found, reading up on this a bit was that populations in most all western civilizations aren’t reproducing at a rate to replace themselves. China’s on the brink of a staggering population decrease, all the infanticides of daughters, and subsequent suicides by young women, paired with their one child limit has lead to a huge disparity between women in men. THis will come to the fore in the next ten years.

    Even in America where population is still expanding, that number is due to immigration. First generation families here tend to have lots of children, but as they become educated and have better prospects, each generation has fewer.
    The numbers don’t yet reflect that phenomenon. Support of the elderly is kind of a looming crisis on the horizon for many western cultures, and I”ll bet in 5-10 years time dwindling populations will be a focal point of news and government policy.

  2. mklekacz Says:

    Rabbit, in many places, the population issue is already much under discussion. The demographic changes and their impact are some of the things I find most fascinating about this period we’re in now, a period of unrivaled social chaos since the Industrial Revolution.

    I’m just sorry I won’t live long enough to see how it works itself out. Perhaps you will, or perhaps not. If you do, I hope you think of me when you’re contemplating all of this stuff and trying to make sense of it.

  3. wanderings Says:

    I love the NY Times for more than just crossword puzzles… actually, I can’t even complete the puzzles! It takes me all week to read all the articles, but I do remember the images from the NY Village article. I will have to go back and read it later tonight.

  4. mklekacz Says:

    I’ve read several things lately about what losing our villages does to us. I’m not sure that a group of $1 million condos will replace Hamlet, Kansas, but I do think it says something about human cultural needs.

  5. Philip Ferris Says:

    Even villages have changed and become, in many instances over here, more like towns. Having said that my village retains it’s core values and there are enought village families for there to be a core support network.

    Our biggest problem is the ridiculously expensive properties. The tradition in the UK is more towards buying, rather than renting, (I have a feeling the US is the other way round?). Young people in the village have been unable to buy places for years now. Most new blood is middle aged or older.

    (London was described to me earlier in the week as a city of a thousand villages. I guess it has had to be that way to survive.

  6. mklekacz Says:

    Phil, the most recent figure I remember seeing in the news is that 67% of U.S. residents own their homes. The most recent I can find online says it’s 71%. But it remains to be seen what the percent will be when the fallout from the recent fiasco with subprime mortgages settles. Property is expensive here, too, and increasingly beyond those of modest means. Something is very askew in the whole picture.

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