“Multigenerational Communities or Bust
Sarah Goodyear. August 30, 2012
I’m raising a New Yorker. A city kid through and through. It’s not by accident that this is happening: I grew up in the city myself (Manhattan), and so it has always seemed to me like an obvious place to raise my own child. He was born, 10-plus years ago, in a downtown Manhattan hospital, and came home to the house in Brooklyn where he has lived ever since.
I expected my son to be loyal to his city, the way that I have always been, but sometimes he surprises even me with his hometown pride. Like the time he returned from a trip to a leafy Massachusetts suburb, re-entering his native burg at perhaps its lowest point – the grim streets around Penn Station. On a hot and humid night, he strode past the piles of garbage and the fluorescent fast-food outlets, breathed in the fetid air, and declared, “It’s good to be home. I love New York.”
That’s a little bit extreme, I admit. But the benefits he’s getting from growing up here are undeniable. He is constantly meeting and interacting with all kinds of people from all over the world, and loves to guess which languages he is overhearing on the street or subway. When he walks down the street, the shopkeepers know his name. He plays with kids on the block and in pickup games at our local park. He regularly visits some of the world’s best museums, although he probably takes in almost as much art on the streets around him. He has seen first-hand the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich, and that has given him plenty to think about.
Maybe most important, he has learned how to navigate this world on foot, transit, and bike. He has a detailed mental map of our surroundings, something that is much harder for children to acquire if they get chauffeured everywhere. By the time he’s a teenager, the whole city will be his oyster, thanks to the bus and subway.
So to me, at least, it makes all the sense in the world to raise a kid in the city. In the end, of course, it’s a profoundly personal choice, and it’s obviously not the right decision for every family. One thing is clear, though: The city benefits as much from having children as children do from having the city.
A city that is filled with children is a happier, more lively place than one that isn’t. More than that, it’s a place that is clearly headed toward the future, not stagnating in the past. A city that can keep its children engaged and stimulated is building a resource that will pay off big-time in years to come.”
Via: The Atlantic Cities