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What is your American Dream?

At the coffee house yesterday while attempting to do some research on urban planning, specifically trains, the woman sitting next to me started up a conversation. She was obviously very bright, as well as knowledgeable on a variety of subjects. We didn't always agree on issues, yet she was really fun to talk to. (I really wish I had pressed her for her contact info.)

We got on the topic of urban planning, mainly because she lives up in the massive, sprawling suburb, Rio Rancho, which I believe she said is completely blanketed with Wi-Max. How cool is that? One would think the city of Albuquerque would have the same setup.

Anyway, I had to make note of how horrendous the traffic is there, having experienced it twice during rush hour traffic. Once by car, which I don't recommend and once via ABQ's 790 Rapid Ride bus, aka the Blue Line.

This topic is nothing new amongst the community. Local transit officials are studying a myriad of ways to alleviate the current and future traffic congestion.

Then our conversation moved to walkable communities and the fixed American dream to own one's own home. This woman noted that our community needs to continue to build more houses, because construction is a major industry driving the local economy. As the housing market collapse continues, this idea seems off to me. We need to be looking at other ways to help the economy.

Then this woman noted that soon we'll be expanding our community to the Pueblos. That was my cue to say we can always expand upward instead of outward. She didn't like that idea, because of the typical stereotype of people being forced to live in 250-square-foot apartments paying the same price one would pay for a place three or four times that size out in the suburbs or rural areas.

I'm not talking about people being forced to live in a way they don't want to. Yet we in the US are transfixed by the dream of owning one's own home and the more square footage one has, the better.

After having lived 15 years in a beautiful four-bedroom house with a sunroom, small sleeping/reading porch, full basement and decent sized attic, small feels really good. Anyone who's read this journal in the last year will know this is how I feel. Yes, I loved that house in Grand Rapids. Never believed I'd ever sell it, but living in it was well beyond Henry David Thoreau's point of "... Don't let your possessions possess you."

Small can be good. Less can be more. For Mr F and I small is good at this point. Sure we wish we had more storage space and tabletop space. It would be really nice to not have to smell the litter box everytime Miss P uses it. Really nice.

Not everyone shares the American dream of owning a house. And I bet as we continue to live in this poorer economy, more people will awaken to a different American dream.

Posted via LiveJournal.app.


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December 2011