Home » Featured »Guest » Currently Reading:

Intern Learned How To Be A City Dweller

December 17, 2013 Featured, Guest 43 Comments

The following is a guest post from Brandon Sampson, my research intern this semester – SP:

Sidewalk on Laclede
Sidewalk on Laclede in front of Brandon’s apartment building

Cities reflect their builders and inhabitants. In a way cities are like living organisms, constantly growing, dying, and changing. This past semester working with Steve, I have started to learn how to be a city dweller. This might seem like a rather silly statement. If you live in an urban area, you live in an urban area. But one of the many things Steve has taught me is that, living within a city area is similar to being in a relationship with someone.

It takes:

  1. Commitment: We humans throughout our time on this planet have been shaped and helped shape the environments we have chosen to inhabit. For us to be in a healthy relationship with our chosen cities we have to take care of it. This means constructing environments that are conducive to human interaction and growth. City dwellers have to be committed to the urban space, so the city evolves in ways that help the community grow.
  2. Listening: The cities have a language of their own. A dweller has to pay attention to the language of the urban environment. Everyone once and awhile, an urbanite needs to stop, ask, and think “What is the city telling me?” If people pay attention, they can know if something is helping their communities grow or shrink. Perhaps it can be as simple as a street diet to allow more pedestrian-friendly walkways, or as big as examining the ways a city segregates populations from each other.
  3. Time: Cities can be as authentic as we want them to be. We can allow companies and government policies run how cities develop, or we urbanites can be active in the process and help guide policies in ways that are conducive to the surrounding community. Also it takes learning. Proper city development has become a lost art among Americans, as a century of bad city development has manipulated how we think a city should be. Steve throughout the semester has given me the chance to read books that reveal how we can learn from our mistakes and begin the steady and slow process of helping construct healthy environments.
  4. A little bit of love: All living things need a little bit of lovin’. Cities are no different. This means the physical city and those that live inside them. Remembering the little things, such as a sidewalk that needs repaving or a ramp that needs to be replaced. These little and big things help connect people together. Allowing diverse communities to coexist and work and play with each other is essential to a livable urban space.

But above all, the single most important lesson I’ve learned from interning with Steve about urban environments is how to see everything in the city as interconnected. He has done this by giving me the resources to learn and explore the policies, history, and process a city has to undergo to function and expand. And what is the most important part of this is interconnectness is that it is possible for anyone to learn the things I learned.

— Brandon Sampson

Brandon, a suburban Tulsa native, is an undergrad at Saint Louis University. He’ll be studying in Budapest in Spring 2014.

 

 

Currently there are "43 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    Well said!

     
  2. Fozzie says:

    Why does this seem like that Seinfeld episode where Kramer hires the intern for Kr-America Industries?

     
  3. moe says:

    Kirkwoodians say the same things. And so do Chesterfielders, and Webstonians, and whatever the call St. Charles residents, and on and on and on. Learning to be a “city dweller” is learning to be a responsible resident and a neighbor.

     
    • guest says:

      It’s a little different in the city because you have to deal with more headaches so the commitment is bigger.

       
      • moe says:

        BTW..how is it different and just what headaches do you encounter?

         
        • guest says:

          Older neighborhoods are more work

           
          • moe says:

            That’s it? Older neighborhoods are more work?? Ok…not much to go on, but I’ll go with it….so then tell us… if Ma and Pa Kettle don’t wish to put up with that “older neighborhoods are more work”, don’t wish to deal with “more headaches” and “learning to be a city dweller” and wish to move out to St. Charles (or Fairview or any point west of 270) because by using your reasoning, it’s easier…why are they wrong?
            Answer these questions then maybe, just maybe, we can address concerns from both sides of the fence and work towards unity.

             
          • guest says:

            Ma and Pa Kettle can move. What’s your point?

             
          • moe says:

            And you prove my point.

            Ma and Pa Kettle have been moving…first to places like Kirkwood and Webster, then to Chesterfield and Ballwin, and now St. Charles and other places.

            Instead of learning and respecting Ma and Pa Kettle’s CHOICE to, in your own words, not to work so hard, you and others would rather just damn them or tell the farmer that he can’t sell to a subdivision builder or relent to a form of oligarchy where planners ‘know better’ than the voters. And then you wonder why St. Charlesians look down on City folk….

             
          • guest says:

            I think Freud would have a field day with the passive-aggressive communication of “Moe”.

             
          • moe says:

            Maybe but at least he would answer the question and not hide under “guest”. But hey, you know it all and those that don’t like it can just move. LOL

             
          • guest says:

            Oh, you mean “Moe” is your real name?

             
          • JZ71 says:

            Just check with Larry and Curly! 😉

             
          • guest says:

            Moe, I guess I’d be interested in hearing your alternative? This post is about learning to be a city dweller and you make the case for moving away. Again, what’s your point?

             
          • moe says:

            My point is that learning to be a City resident is NO different than learning to live in any of the suburbs. I asked for you to further define your comment of ‘older neighborhoods need more work’. Your response was ‘they could move’. That’s it…some snarky comment with no answer to why you find ‘older neighborhoods need more work’. I don’t need to offer alternatives since I’m not the one that made the ‘older neighborhoods need more work’ comment. But I did…. “if Ma and Pa Kettle don’t wish to put up with that “older neighborhoods are more work”, don’t wish to deal with “more headaches” and “learning to be a city dweller” and wish to move out to St. Charles (or Fairview or any point west of 270) because by using your reasoning, it’s easier…why are they wrong?” And I await your response.

             
          • guest says:

            If I have to explain to you why living in an older neighborhood brings headaches, I don’t think I can help you. But, what the heck. I’ll give it a try. How about we start with lots of maintenance and repairs?

             
          • moe says:

            How about this…just forget it. If you can’t even address the issues of why you live in the City and why you put up the effort, then how can one have an intelligent conversation about why other people chose not to? I live in the City, I know of what is required. But a house is a house. One has the same maint. and repair issues as one has in the suburbs. But that’s not the point. It’s about RESPECTing other’s choices and trying to address those issues in hopes of understanding the underlying causes of sprawl. But I get it….’They’ll just move” it tells me and other readers all we need to know that dialogue only works and is appreciate when one supports the views of this page.

             
          • JZ71 says:

            In some ways the City IS harder – crime, schools and aging infrastructure all come to mind – but suburbs have their own challenges, as well -with long commutes, little public transit, crowded schools and patchwork infrastructure all coming to mind. Life is full of choices, but learning to appreciate and understand where you are, at any point in time, is something that many people either fail to appreciate or fail to learn. Kudos to Brandon for learning to savor the built environment and for putting his observations out in a well-written essay!

             
          • guest says:

            It sounds like your fishing for some response that will fulfill some sort of agenda. Well, you know what? You’re not gonna get it. Lots of people point to crime as a big factor for not living in the city. Or schools. Personally, I have virtually no fear of crime and the school issue does not affect me. The bigger headaches to me are old systems in our house, high repair costs, and a small garage. I accept those headaches to be part of a community of city residents working to make this a better place. Gladly. How does a St. Charles county family do that in St. Louis city?

             
          • JZ71 says:

            And it sounds like you’re fishing for further validation of your choice to live in the city! Those that “get it”, get it, those that don’t probably never will (and it goes both ways)! If you’re happy, be happy; if you’re satisfied, be satisfied. Life is way too short to worry about people who already have their minds made up . . . .

             
          • guest says:

            That’s where I think you’re wrong. I believe the data will back up the fact that people living in outer suburbs have less time for community affairs, largely because they spend more time in their cars. Also, their neighborhoods don’t have the sorts of challenges that many urban ones do, so there’s less need to pull people together to work on improving things.

             
          • JZ71 says:

            So what if they “have less time for community affairs”? So what if “their neighborhoods don’t have the sorts of challenges that many urban ones do”? Does that make them somehow lesser human beings? Does this make you a better person? This isn’t about one upping someone else, this is about savoring and enjoying what you/I/we have, every day, in spite of (or because of) the daily challenges . . . .

             
          • guest says:

            You made the point that suburbanites spend their time making their communities better, and I basically countered that due to the harried lifestyles, they have less time for community. That’s not about one-upping anybody. That’s just contrasting differences. Others could say low income people have less time for community affairs also because they are struggling to keep their lives together. Now to find some references about suburban people having less time to be involved in community activities. (Really, all one needs to do is google, “Bowling Alone”)

             
          • JZ71 says:

            Some suburbanites DO spend a great deal of time trying to make their communities better, just like SOME city dwellers do (and some don’t – see unemployed gang banger). I don’t quite get why you’re trying to make this into some sort of competition – are you trying to quantify that city life is “better”? That city living is far superior to any other type of “living”?! Brandon is from the suburbs of Tulsa, and apparently had never been exposed to “urban” living prior to coming to St. Louis and SLU. He learned to appreciate the many nuances of city living, partly with Steve’s insights and guidance, and he returned the favor by writing this post – all good! You may think that suburban living sucks and that all suburbanites could care less about their communities, but you would be wrong. Suburban living apparently isn’t for you, but you seem unwilling to admit that it works very well for those people who CHOOSE to live in the suburbs! You seem to be focused on the sacrifices you need(ed) to make to live in the city – the “headaches”, the “commitment”, the “more work”. Fine, we’ll get you a gold star. If you want more people to buy into the realities of city living, to love the city, quit trying to put them down. Instead, explain why having neighbors close by is good, why it’s worth it to buy an old home and invest sweat and dollars to make it a better home, why trading transit for freeways makes your life better. “Harried lifestyles” happen EVERYWHERE – in the cities, in the ‘burbs, on the farm – it’s called life! We all make choices, many times for different reasons at different times in our lives. You say schools and crime aren’t an issue for you – I’m guessing, young, single and probably male. Change that to married with 2 or 3 kids in elementary school and priorities change. Change that to retired and fighting a slew of ailments and the priorities change again! Celebrate where you are today and the good choices that brought you here. But don’t be so insecure that you need to belittle other people’s choices . . . .

             
          • guest says:

            JZ, you’re reading a whole lot into my comments that isn’t there. Let me find a link that better summarizes what I’ve been trying to say….http://www.amerika.org/social-reality/suburban-isolation/ and this http://architecture.about.com/od/communitydesign/a/teenshootings.htm

             
          • JZ71 says:

            Ah, yes, two respected resources for scholarly research, about.com (ranking right up there with wikipedia) and amerika.org. That’s the beauty of the interwebs – with a few clicks of the mouse, you can find a link to support any view you want to present. Let me offer a few more gems from Amerika.org: “Whitey’s no longer on the moon”, “Why diversity can never work” and “How sending women to work scuttled our economy” (and that’s just from the last month!).

            http://www.amerika.org/about/: “We will create this world by breaking away from the dying remnants of the modern liberal democratic West, and as that rotting parasitic edifice fails, pushing it aside. We do not need it. It does not represent us. The people who believe in it are corrupt or scared, and the former need to go elsewhere and the latter re-learn. Our viewpoint is a fusion of New Right, American paleoconservative, Traditionalist and “crunchy” conservative beliefs. For the past twenty years, we have been writing about the coming collapse from within and how to avoid it. Our solutions require a gradual growth of wisdom through experience. Join us… we are the future.”

             
          • gmichaud says:

            I find it interesting you say in comments elsewhere that you are willing to take on anyone with intelligent dialogue, but you become frustrated because people either don’t realize or don’t want admit that other people’s views have as much validity as theirs.
            Guest is simply citing some links that explained his/her views, who cares where they come from?
            Instead of addressing those views you mock him/her for the choice of websites. It has absolutely nothing to do with any observations guest is trying to make.

            Your whole comment above is nothing more than taunting guest and trying to diminish and demean his/her opinions and their standing in the discussion.

            But I guess you don’t see the hypocritical irony in your own commentary.

             
          • JZ71 says:

            Point taken . . . and to expand – this could be a big part of the problem: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/12/extreme-politicians-where-are-moderates-100784_Page2.html

             
          • moe says:

            JZ… this is why I’ve stopped commenting and stepped back from this crap. Urbanites want everyone to live in the City…yet can’t explain even the most basic of issues as to why city living trumps suburban living…be it Kirkwood, Webster or St. Charles. And maint? Hell, half of Webster is older than the homes in South City. That is why they continue to fail to make any progress at stopping sprawl and they don’t get it as ‘guest is pointing out’. If anyone would be able to explain why city living is better it would be a person in Brandon’s shoes…..but then again…you notice they don’t respond. For the past few posts, actually for at least the past year….it’s just you, me, and a handful of others that even bother to comment. It’s just not worth it anymore. There are better and more productive blogs and resources out there.

             
          • guest says:

            There’s a big difference between Kirkwood, Webster, and Ferguson, and St. Charles, Wentzville, and Fenton. Don’t you agree, “Moe”?

             
          • JZ71 says:

            Moe, we’re in the same chapter, if not on the same page. I’m willing to take on anyone in intelligent dialogue, and I’m willing to share my insights from 40+ years of community building, but I do become frustrated when people either don’t realize or don’t want admit that other people’s views have as much validity as theirs. Steve deserves a lot of credit for keeping this forum as open as he has. I haven’t been shy about questioning many of his observations or conclusions, but I also respect the effort it takes to put them out there and his right to hold them. Yes, some are trivial (taxi apps?), but finding something new every day takes way more dedication than I’m willing to put forth. The number of comments directly reflects how relevant any issue may be, and sometimes, like this one, they take some interesting twists and turns, but overall, this continues to be a valuable resource for St. Louis.

             
          • moe says:

            Exactly the point JZ. Yes, I’ll give Steve credit for keeping this going for what…10 years? We’ve seen other blogs come and gone. they do take work. I guess we should be thankful Steve has an “intern”.
            And I, and you, and Gm, and Fozzie, and only one or two others are the only commenters. That’s it unfortunately. People that just ‘view’ the page and don’t comment aren’t really verifiable nor do they indicate one way or the other their view points….heck, they can’t even hit a ‘ like ‘ or ‘ dislike ‘ icon and with no page view counter, it’s very hard to determine the rise and fall of viewership or if people agree more with your view or with mine. For as long as I remember, you and I were mostly opposing, now we’re more and more on the same page which to me, demonstrates how the sensationalism aspect has taken over. Instead we are subjected to “guest’ and ‘wump’ and a few others that make snarky comments…just to stir the pot. And let’s see…I’m counting above….yup, not a single comment from Brandon or Steve on this post. Again, just sit back and watch the fireworks.
            So your’ frustration and mine….worthless… No one is changing their view point, no one is interested in reading how other people view our area. Take “guest” ‘s comment….he sites two vague sites and some another stab at my name. (hey guest…moe IS my name..and I used to post my picture as well, what’s your’s?? Hell, even the Post D has cut back on people that comment under made up names just to create animosity ). Paleo-conservative…what a crock of bull. I’m glad that YOU at least recognize how weak Wikipedia is as source material. Of all the research papers you and I have looked at, when has even 1 of them cited “Wikipedia” as a source? not once. And there is a reason for that.
            One should not have to cite Wikipedia, the Transportation Journal, or even amerika.org. to tell us why THEY, as a PERSON believes that the city ‘takes more work’. There was no source-citing when ‘guest’ posted ‘takes more work’. There was no source-citing when Brandon posted his 4 learning points. And when asked for the underlying cause of such statements (i.e. why they think that way, why the city takes more work, etc.) we got snarky comebacks. No personal view, no personal thoughts. Nada. Oh yeah…except for “they can move”.
            Voters aren’t going to pull up a source document at the ballot box. They’re going to vote how they feel. Anyone can tell someone else how they feel. THAT is what needs to be understood in order for things to change and that is what is not changing on here and I’ve been very consistent in trying to get to that. The only reason to comment under guest or wump is because the person isn’t posting about how they really feel, but posting just to stir the pot.
            And in closing “guest”….Kirkwood, Webster, St. Charles, Ferguson…..at their very core ARE all the same. Just a group of people striving to make a community viable. A group of new AND old homes and buildings ‘taking work’. Communities full of crime, schools, retail, infrastructure, smart people, uneducated people, able body and disabled people. Communities full of JZs, Moes, wumps, thinking with their head and with their heart, doing what they think is right for them. And until we, as in everyone, realize that, and come to understand why they think what they are doing is right, nothing is going to change. But here….here on what use to be a good blog…we get no steering from the host(s) and comments of “they can just move”. Irrelevancy.

             
          • I’ve cited before a paper by a PhD in communications indicating Wikipedia can be an acceptable resource. I had an intern for a few months because his professor asked me if I’d be willing to do so, so I agreed.

             
          • dempster holland says:

            The main value of wickipedia is that it tends to cover the basic issues but more
            important gives you citations to other articles for most statements. These other
            articles can be judged on their own merits and reputation of their publisher

             
          • JZ71 says:

            Agree, it’s a great resource for the basics, but as with anything on the interwebs, it needs to be “taken with a grain of salt”, since anyone can modify anything that’s been posted.

             
          • I’m assuming you’ve never edited a Wikipedia entry? If you had you’d know the process and that earlier editors would be notified of any changes that someone makes. Wikipedia is very much peer-reviewed.

             
          • Eric5434 says:

            That completely depends on the page. If you change Barack Obama’s page to just the N-word repeated a thousand times, it will be reverted almost immediately (I saw that once). If you make a reasonable-sounding edit on an obscure page, it is likely to last indefinitely.

             
          • Fozzie says:

            So, what is that data?

             
          • JZ71 says:

            It looks like Bowling Alone hypothesizes that a decline in membership in civic organizations over the past 50 years, or so, has resulted in a decline in participation in the political process and local government. I’d argue that that participation has simply moved to the internet, cable TV and talk radio. Both the Tea Party movement and blogs like this one are evidence of people participating, every day, just in different ways than previous generations.

             
          • guest says:

            Totally disagree. Participation in blogs and talk radio is just adding to the noise, it doesn’t mean organization and action. The Tea Party is sort of a movement borne out of frustration and doesn’t have a “place-based” community identity. It’s mostly angry old white people, who coincidentally mostly live in suburbs or rural areas. Real community work takes time face to face in a real live organization doing real live physical things. And contributing some sort of value, whether time, money, your name, or expertise.

             
          • JZ71 says:

            And I agree, completely, with your last two sentences. Where we disagree is where “community” happens. I’ve seen it on the barren plains of eastern Colorado, in every part of Denver, in rural Iowa farm towns, on college campuses, in religious orders, in St. Charles County and in the Lindenwood Park area of South City. Community has little to do with the built environment and much to do with people, wherever they are and whatever their goals may be. How people communicate and associate has evolved along with technology, but many people continue to want to belong, to be a part of making their lives better.

             
          • guest says:

            That was this “guest” liking your comment.

             
      • JZ71 says:

        I’d have to say different headaches, not more headaches.

         

Comment on this Article:

Advertisement



FACEBOOK POSTS

This message is only visible to admins.

Problem displaying Facebook posts.
Click to show error

Error: An access token is required to request this resource.
Type: OAuthException

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe