A paean to city living

Guestpost by Heron on Aug 24th

Let us city dwellers sing a paean — a song of praise or triumph — for our cities. Let us stand together and celebrate our homes. Let Heron, of the arty DC rowhouse, lead us in praise.

Empire State Pigeon

Photo by ZeroOne. Used under Creative Commons license.

In the city, there is always something to do

Tango dancing? Beers for Queers? Planned Parenthood escorting? Cooking classes? Knitting lessons? And that's just at 4pm on Tuesday! A city means a high concentration of people in one place, which means there are always going to be enough people interested in every sort of social or instructional event. While a less-populated area might only have two Dungeons and Dragons enthusiasts, a city will likely have a few good games going on at any time.

There are lots of people and they're all different

The high concentration of people means FRIENDS and new POTENTIAL FRIENDS! Especially at those Dungeons and Dragons games or crochet lessons. Cities are ideal places to meet new friends who share your (possibly arcane) interests. And depending on where you grew up, your city may be a magnet for your friends from high school/college/grad school/Peace Corps/etc. Even though I grew up far from my current city, a goodly number of my friends from throughout my life have ended up here with me.

I can always find somewhere new and quiet to run away to

When I'm sick of running into people I know and sick of having to meet all these new people, I can always find somewhere new and quiet to escape. And I don't mean my house. A city is the perfect place to be anonymous. The bigger the city, the easier anonymity: take a bus a few miles north and stroll around a new park. Or visit a library or bookstore you've never patronized, sit in a corner, and read a book for a while.

I can walk, bike, or take public transit everywhere

We live in a smaller city, which means that we have been able to live car-free for three years. Some people need a car, but we are totally content with walking, biking, public transit, and Zipcar for the occasional big-shop or trip to the mountains. Walking and biking help me know my way around better, and using public transit makes me feel all squishy for the environment. I also feel safer: in the case of a zombie apocalypse I know I can walk home from work in under an hour. Cities are generally easier for low-income people and people who need higher accessibility for the same reasons.

In some ways, cities are good for the environment

My squishiness for the environment extends from using public transit to living in a city as a whole. Cities use fewer natural resources than the same number of people living in lower concentration. Cities have a smaller footprint (literally) than suburbs and allow more people to make better use of fewer commodities. For example, a drug store or grocery store serving 2 square miles in a city would service 200,000 people, while the same store serving 2 square miles in the suburbs would only service 10,000 people, necessitating more stores!

There are many things I hate about cities, but today I sang my love song entitled "Cities are Awesome!" So, tell me where you live and why you love it! Convince me to move to your village/commune/farm/gated community/tree.

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About Heron

Heron lives in DC with her partner and their cat Thomasina Pinksy Mayhem Servomotor.