A Safe Place to Raise Children
Read Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer, and you read of a time when parents let their children have the run of the town, spend the day fishing, or pursuing adventures unaccompanied and unsupervised. The children learned autonomy and independence, and grew up healthier than sitting in front of electronic media for eight hours a day. Why is this so rare today? The answer is fear. Parents are (legitimately) afraid that their child will be harmed. The largest danger comes from cars, where children run the risk of being run over, and also from the anonymity that a car gives predators. The parents fear their child can be abused or abducted, and the automobile gives the predator cover. Today, in what we call communities, there is less sense of community. People do not look after each other as much as they used to, thus predatory, delinquent and criminal behavior has more chance of taking hold. It is not that people do not care, it is the fact that too often they are not there; they are not present.
The design of the VillageTown makes it safer for children. The act of removing cars makes the streets safe. Outsiders walking into the village with ill-intent will be observed and challenged; indeed they will find such a place unattractive for getting into mischief. Residents who cross the line will also be observed and challenged, and if their conduct is not voluntarily curbed, the community has the power to protect itself. The same holds true with the greenbelt. It is a safe environment where children can enjoy the freedom that they, or their parents, read about in Tom Sawyer. They can run, play, swim in the ponds, climb the trees and build tree-houses. Some may fall out of trees and break an leg or arm, but most parents will feel comfortable taking such a risk... the medical center will put a cast on, and it will heal - just as children healed for centuries before our time. For some children, life-long friendships will be formed, both with peers, and with older people. This is especially the case where elders are involved - caring people who have the time to talk and interact with children, perhaps teaching them a skill, or just passing on the stories that form the cultural connection that give depth to children's lives.
Childhood is rarely idyllic, but in a VillageTown it has the opportunity at least to be normal.