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April 12, 2008


I grew up in a suburb of LA that was designed and built, for the most part, in the 1930s. Our little "area" had a plaza within walking distance of almost everyone, that had a small grocery store, gas station, two commercial buildings, a fancy restaraunt, a cafe, a pizza place, a pharmacy/stationery store, a bank or two and a big Roman-looking fountain to sort of announce that this was a little place. It was three blocks from the high school, five from the elementary school, a quarter mile from the ocean. It really was a sort of social hub for everyone in the area. You'd see your friends and neighbors there, errands could easily be run there. Anything else of use was at least five miles away in any direction.

San Pedro, Los Angeles' own "small town" on the harbor, had little sort of common areas sprinkled all over it. These are mostly closed down or gone now, but included usually a little store, and some offices, and the neighborhoods used them. I miss being able to walk to a deli for a great sandwich or down to the post office to send off a package.

Neither of the places in Oregon that i've lived in had these little areas that people gathered at to socialize. And they haven't exactly been suburbs, either.

We live in rural Oregon and there is community. We know our neighbors, talk to them when we meet on the road, sometimes help each other out. When I moved out here, I was coming from a Portland suburb where I did know the neighbors names, sometimes got together, but didn't know their private business. Living in the country was an eye-opener as people knew far more about each other than where I'd come from. I do think some developments have community centers which would help people connect but in most neighborhoods, where people work away, it's true that it's hard to meet anyone and many do not want to know their neighbors.

I often think how ugly we let our world develop also. Even electric power lines. They ruin photographs and maybe are essential but they never take into account physical beauty. Then there are all those people who cannot keep their empty pop can or wrapper in their vehicle and have to toss it out. A lot of people are pigs for how they damage the environment where they have to live.

Brian said:
>>>But someday, when maintaining our uneasy care yard and the rest of our property gets too much for us, I can see us comfortably settling into a condo or townhouse within easy walking distance of the necessities of life: a coffeehouse, natural food store, bookstore, parks, walking/biking trails.<<<

OOHHHH!!!! Did someone leave a window open?
I just felt a cold chill down my spine.
S S S Scarryyyyyyyy!!!!
I will never leave my property until the day I die.
Well,,, unless we were to buy a couple hundred acres EVEN FARTHER away from TOWN.


So true...My wife and I moved here from Austin, Texas four years ago. I am just amazed of how much there IS NOT in Salem. Don't get me wrong, I love the "small town" feeling of the place, but Salem is devoid of just about everything cultural. A cultural wasteland, if you will. The new flashing billboards don't help. Ugh!

The Salem City Council is still living in a world that is quickly passing. In a time when gas prices are headed toward $5 a gallon, the housing market is in free fall and the airline industry is eliminating flights to hundreds of US towns, the mayor and city council have provided millions of dollars in subsidies for MacMansion developers, the building of outlying shopping malls and the much vaunted, soon to be discontinued commercial air service to Salem.

Yes, developers are putting condos and some pricey apartments downtown. The problem is that there are no basic services, grocery stores, etc. in the central part of Salem, unlike Portland, Corvallis and Eugene.

Lots of people in Salem would like to bike commute to work, but the lack of downtown bike lines makes that hazardous. Salem's city council can't think of anything that isn't based on cheap oil and gas.

Talk about Jurassic Park in city hall!

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