Several places I’ve lived have impacted the way I feel and view communities and how humans interact with them. I’ve gone through a whole gambit of places to live and means to travel. I’ve lived in the city without a car, in the suburbs, in the country side. I’ve taken a bike to work, the subway, the metro, the bus, walked, skateboard, and even unicycled. Although I was oblivious at the time my commutes have given given me a ground level perspective on how urban design can impact community building and quality of life. As a builder and aspiring developer these experiences will certainly impact the way I hope to build my work.
Maybe the suburbs aren’t all they’re cracked up to be?
This journey starts in my child hood. As an American suburban youth visiting my fathers mountain town in Lebanon gave my first glimpse into a society that was built before the advent of cars. Despite lack of material abundance these Lebanese people live charming lives and have long life expectancies. My grandparents both died in their 90s at home without ever visiting a hospital. I think its because the active walking and loving community they’re involved in. Studies have shown that people who have many close friends out live their lonely peers.
A beautiful mountain community, Maghdouche fosters deep friendships as people live in close proximity with each other and are always stopping by and sharing a coffee or gossiping. Its hard to not be in tune with your community. Everyone goes to the same church, gets their fresh bread from the local bakery, buy the same local vegetables.
As you can see the buildings are tightly knit together. There is a central square with a verity of small shops, church, restaurants, etc. The towns are organically build around a square like this. The whole town is accessible by foot or bike. My father describes his youth to me as after going to school he would walk down the mountain to the beach, and stop and get ice cream with friends. I would spend my summers there playing air soft with the neighbors or going to the town square to play basketball. What’s there not to love?