Some places have a great sense of community, but most neighborhoods in America, me thinks, do not. A new book, Applebee’s America, seems to agree:
“Life is changing too damn fast,” Cindy Moran told us one day at an Applebee’s restaurant in Howell, Michigan. A single mother of two, Moran was one of the dozens of people we interviewed for this book to gauge the mood of the country. “It’s not easy being the kind of mother I want to be,” she said, carving a high-calorie path through a bowl of spinach dip while her daughter begged for more, “not with life stuck on fast-forward.”
Buffeted by change, people like Moran crave the comfort of community. They want to know their neighbors and meet people like themselves no matter where they live. They want to help improve their neighborhoods and their country. They want to belong.
Our Front Porch Forum experience concurs. The babysitter find, car sale, plumber referral, etc. through our neighborhood forums are almost bonus to the main event… connecting with neighbors. The Dallas Morning News recently ran a piece by the book’s authors:
In the next quarter-century, the nation is expected to increase its housing, office and business stock by 50 percent, and the great majority of that new building will take place in exurbs. But the rapid sprawl comes with complications that few people notice until they’re ensconced – including hellish commutes, overcrowded schools, disappearing open space, inadequate public works and social disconnectedness.
“My next-door neighbor is not friendly, and the rest of them I don’t even know,” Ms. Kromer [a housewife from Livingston County, Mich.] says. “They drive past my house, open their garages from inside their car, and disappear until their car comes popping back out in the morning.”
We’ve heard versions of this last quote so many times that we’ve lost count. Time to do something about it!