SHORT #32: Apartment Towns or Mixed-Use Neighborhoods?
finding the best way to invest in our neighborhoods
This time, something new. Less words, more drawings. Inspiration from train rides. To save you from squinting too much at the screen, you might want to read this story on the website, or download the PDF (at the end of this post).
This past week we took the Mugunghwa (무궁화) train to Seoul for family matters. On the train trip, I was reminded that each time I ride this line, the scenery feels vastly different. Of course, there are the seasonal changes, which are delightful. But there are also other changes along this main train line that are less inspiring.
I should not say that however. They were inspiring. They inspired this story. The drawings in this edition were drafted en-route to Seoul on the train, a 2-hour journey. Over the next few days, I refined them into something like a comic.
I hope you enjoy it.
All easier said than done, of course. Yet, still possible. We have visited many neighborhoods and towns that inhabit a somewhat ‘ideal’ version of how to build a city. In our conversations with the people in these places, we have asked, what makes the neighborhoods we love so amazing? It always comes down to something like ‘focus on relationships between people and people, and between people and nature’ and ‘have some reason for doing what you do besides money’.
We are rarely taught the importance of these ways of operating. More often we are held in a stranglehold where money is the only value. Such a position forces us to work for that one value above all others. It is not our fault that we are here. But if we truly want liberation from this ‘false fairy tale’ of money as the single most important value, it is our responsibility to look for other values, other ways, and to try these other ways with each other.
If money were written into the history books as a useful tool for its time, the story of endless monetary growth would accompany it as one of the biggest fairy tales humanity has ever told.
The story above on the other hand — about a mixed-use neighborhood built together with local residents — is not a fairy tale. It represents real experiences of real people in real places. It also represents some of the collective root instincts of human beings in times and places where humanity and nature both flourished, and where money held a minor role, if it had a role at all. In that, a future where we ‘build cities for each other instead of just for money’ represents a possible future for other places, too.
We can move in any direction we want. What it takes is a mindset shift in you and me, and actions that align with that shift, carried out as relentlessly, and and truthfully as possible.
And really, for the best return on investment, there’s no better time than right now, to start investing our love, and effort in building better streets, blocks, neighborhoods, and cities for each other, and all of nature.
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Download a PDF of this story