I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that we’ve lost our sense of community, as our “standard of living” has increased.
There are so many little things, that used to be done outside of our home, that we now do in our house.
–Instead of going to the movies, we watch our big screen television.
–Instead of going to the playground, we own a swingset.
–Instead of going out to eat, we order fast food and eat it at home.
–Instead of going to the library, we order books and e-books at home (and have our own Internet access at home).
–Instead of going to the laundromat, we own our own laundry machines.
–Instead of taking our children to various places in the community, we fill their rooms with toys.
–Instead of enjoying hobbies within the community, we fill our houses with the supplies for different “activities”.
–Instead of cooking out at the park, we grill at home.
This disconnect never really hit home until last summer. With 100 square feet of living space, we were forced to either make use of community resources, or lose our minds while living in a very small bleach bottle. We didn’t have our own garden, so we would sit and enjoy the public garden on the riverwalk, right by our slip. Beanie’s one box of toys got old fast, so she got used to walking across the bike path to the playground, where there was always a multitude of friends waiting. Laundry was a weekly task, and I would enjoy the company of other transient boaters while I attended to it, in the laundry room. We went to story hour at the library, we used the public grills (and sinks, if we were lucky!).
Docked in a public place, especially in a downtown wall slip, we were instantly a part of everything. Tourists walked past our home, and looked inside. We talked to everyone, and we were a part of it all. Without a fortress of possessions surrounding us, we had no choice but to join the community.
We need to rethink this “American dream,” and we need to rethink “standard of living.” Our current lifestyle is removing us from each other. It’s time for us to come up with something better.