By Bob Soron, Copy Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
Do you love where you live? Or is it just where you landed, where you happened to settle? When you meet a potential client, can you tell whether they’re just focused on the house, or do they seek a home that’s part of a vibrant community? For some time, many Americans have felt that community planners lost sight of the need for pleasant, lively neighborhoods, designed and built for people. These people have talked in code words such as “walkable,” “sustainable,” and “people-friendly.” And recently they’ve started to push their ideas to civic leaders, to green industries, and to the real estate trade, seeking communities that support a lifestyle centered on the neighborhood.
Fifteen years ago, novelist James Howard Kunstler wrote his first nonfiction book, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape (Touchstone Press, 1994), after wondering why he had always loved some of the areas in which he had lived and so strongly disliked others. At the time he had no training in urban or community planning; he wanted to explore the effect that cities, towns, and neighborhoods had on their residents’ quality of life. But he communicated his answers so well that he gave voice to those who agreed, and his book — which inspired a sequel, Home from Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the 21st Century (Touchstone Press, 1998) — has become a staple among people who care where they live.
FROM THE BOOK: 5 LESSONS FOR THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY
1. The car isn’t the enemy: People always need reliable transportation, whether it’s walking, cycling, driving, or public transportation. Above all, the car made America accessible, whether for the simple pleasure of a drive in the country or for the need to move and seek a better life during hard times. But many urban planners have ignored other transportation in favor of the automobile. Kunstler doesn’t spare his contempt for the worst excesses, but his focus is always on spaces that allow people easy access to all their needs. Continue reading »