Incorporating interaction: the key to a great neighborhood? A plan that creates opportunities for neighbors to bump into one another.

Author:Figura, Michael
Position:SMART GROWTH
 
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While people can make a place truly great, a neighborhood's pattern of development has a large impact on how the people of that neighborhood interact and socialize. One important characteristic of a well-planned neighborhood is that people have many chances to unexpectedly run into each other. Think about it: people who see each other frequently tend to have deeper relationships, and it's that type of connection with neighbors, rather than isolation from them, that's a sign of a true community.

One pattern of development that fosters frequent interaction among neighbors is. called traditional neighborhood development, or TND. TND is a new term that describes an old pattern of city development, one that's seeing a comeback today. With TND development, homes are close to each other, close to the street, and close to commercial areas. Homes are close to each other to create enough density to support transit and pedestrian modes of transportation, both of which don't work well in neighborhoods of low densities. Homes are close to the street so that people who are on their front porches can see their neighbors as they're walking by. And, homes are close to commercial areas so that people can walk places instead of having to drive. In that vein, streets are designed to make walking safe, enjoyable and easy, and, typically, residents can enjoy quality parks that are within close walking distance to homes and businesses. In such a neighborhood, the built environment structures people's daily patterns in ways that encourage frequent interaction with neighbors.

Juxtaposed to the traditional neighborhood development is the typical American subdivision. In the typical American subdivision, people usually have to drive every time they want to go somewhere. Because driving isolates motorists from their environment, neighbors don't interact often as they go to and from their destinations. If you don't believe this ask yourself if you slowly drive through your neighborhood with your windows down telling everyone who's outside "good morning" while...

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