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Energy and Environmental Building Association, 1999

Perry Bigelow - The Way Neighborhoods Were Meant To Be

Most of my "range" as a child had to do with country roads and town streets.

Whether it was
- Riding my bike a mile to my sisters and stopping to play in the woods
- Throwing stones at the carp in the creek
- Taking the haybaler to the next farm
- Riding my bike up to the post office to get the mail.

As a child I had "real kingdoms" where I exercised "real power" and did creative valuable "real work."

My life counted.

My children grew up on a private cul-de-sac lane in a suburban community. There were three keys to its success for children:

1. The lane was private - the neighbors owned and controlled it together.

2. A stranger who drove down it had to turn around and drive back out, knowing that there was probably someone in one of those houses watching him.

3. It was short, so cars couldn't speed.

A few years ago I asked my 27-year-old daughter: where was your favorite place to play when you were 7 or 8? She said: In the street.

I said weren't you afraid of cars?

She said - now you have to get the body language of this 27-year-old mother of two - Oh no dad, we owned the street".

It was a reflective, automatic response to her range and reign as a child.

Did you get that - "Oh no, we owned the street."

I remember driving home after work - it looked like a war zone - there were bikes and tricycles and big wheels and wagons strewn like carnage all along the lane.

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