In the beginning, was the City. And the City was without order. People, wagons, horses and oxen filled the streets. People produced wares of all kinds and sold them and traded them. And they lived over the store, with children and grandchildren and all manner of family.
And the City Planners looked upon the chaos and said “Let there be Zoning”. And Zoning divided working from living, and made the Residential Subdivision. And that was the First Place.
Then Zoning looked upon working, and divided selling from making, and built the Big Box Store. And that was the Second Place.
Then Zoning divided making from managing, and built the Office Park. And that was the Third Place.
Then Zoning divided living by age, and made the mega-school, the mega-daycare, and the mega retirement home. And those became the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Places.
And on the Seventh Day, Zoning stopped the dividing, and created the Freeway, and blessed it and sanctified it, for the freeway would link all the Places back together.
And the people looked upon all the division, and saw that it was not good. Workers in Office Parks had nowhere to go for lunch. Children could not walk to school. Teenagers could not bike to the movies. And seniors could not bus to the swimming pool.
The people pondered these things, when a Planner appeared in their midst and spoke: “Fear not!” said he, “For unto you this day a saviour shall come, and she will be called the Soccer Mom, and she will drive a chariot called the Sport Utility Vehicle, and it shall be equipped with movies, and snacks, and heated seats”.
And so it came to pass that the Soccer Mom set forth in her chariot and delivered the children to school, and the teens to the movies, and the seniors to the pool, and everyone to the Drive-Thru.
“Alas!” cried the Soccer Mom. I grow weary of my Sport Utility Vehicle. I had planned to spend my years learning Chinese, writing a novel, running for public office and perfecting the violin. This Sport Utility Vehicle is sapping my strength”.
And the Planners looked upon the town again. And they made a Main Street, with shops and studios and offices and residences, and they filled it with seniors and students and children and families. And they linked the neighbourhood together in many places, with narrow streets and paths. And the seniors could walk, and the teens could bike and the children could rollerblade. And freeways became free and parking lots became parks. And the Planners saw that it was good.
~ JANET MARK WALLACE is a regular blog contributor for Walkable Ottawa