Do you know the answer?

Posted: June 18, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

I recently moved, which is why I’ve not posted for awhile.  Moving, even when it’s just a couple of miles, will consume you.  Add to that some remodeling and your life becomes one project after another.  Not that you really care about all of that.

What you might be interested in is solving a particular puzzle.  In my new neighborhood, there’ s a whole lot of friendly chatting going on.  Within the first few days of living at our new house, my wife and I had met numerous neighbors (and their numerous dogs) and not just met them, but had lengthy conversations as they took a break from their walk up and down the sidewalk that runs in front of our house.

In our old neighborhood we had great neighbors (and even though we’ve moved, they’re our friends for life) but it took a while to get to know them.  Our old neighborhood had sidewalks, too, and lots of foot traffic and dog walking.  But the kind of conversations we had with strangers in just a few days at our new address were very few in the 20 years we lived in the old neighborhood.

Yes, the new neighborhood is slightly more upscale, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into friendlier people.  In fact, once you got to know the people in the old neighborhood, they were some of the nicest people you could ever know.  I don’t think it’s the people, I think there’s something about the physical characteristics of the new neighborhood that make it more conducive for chatting.

Take a look at the pictures below.

The old neighborhood.

 

 

The new neighborhood.

Do you know the answer?  Hint:  We’ve talked about this before.

UPDATE: Phil Evans was looking for the right thing when he was looking at setbacks. He said that they are “about” the same, which is true, but they are slightly different. In the new neighborhood the sidwalk is closer to the road, creating a little bit more space between the sidewalk and the houses. I believe there is enough of a difference to stretch the boundaries of personal/social/public space. In the old neighborhood, because the sidewalk is so close to the houses, the walkers felt (subconsciously) that they were invading personal space. It was uncomfortable. So rather than strolling by casually, they walked swiftly and with purpose. In the new neighborhood, there’s more of a feeling of being in the social space/public space range, where they don’t feel uncomfortable walking by. This comfort makes people more relaxed and more likely to engage strangers – or not. The choice is theirs.  See Space: from intimate to public.

That’s my theory.  One more parting thought/question…how social are the newer subdivisons with cul-de-sacs and no sidewalks whatsoever?

Thanks for playing, everyone. See you next time.

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Comments
  1. Sarah Taylor says:

    I think it is the hedge that keeps people at arms length. It is a barrier.

  2. Phil Evans says:

    The setback from the sidewalk seems to be about the same, so I’d say houses closer together in the new neighborhood.

  3. Phil Evans says:

    We lived on a cul-de-sac in a neighborhood (built in the early 90’s) and knew those 5 neighbors well, but there were no sidewalks and nobody new ever walked by because the street was a dead end. Then we moved to a new urbanist craftsman neighborhood (no cul-de-sacs) with sidewalks, reasonable setbacks and front porches… we met our new neighbors instantly and meet new ones or reconnect all the time. (this is in Huntersville, NC)

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