I’m not doing this to be mischievous, honestly. I read the following paragraph, the sort of statement that reaches me about once a week on average:
“I grew up in [N], in a neighborhood where my family knew everyone on the block and we all looked out for each other. All the kids played together, and if we did anything wrong our parents would hear about it from one of the neighbors. I wanted to recreate that sense of community.”
And for some reason, you know how it is, this is what I interpreted:
“I grew up in Placetown, in a neighbourhood where my family knew everyone and truly nasty rumours abounded and there was a lot of obvious domestic violence that no-one talked about and if you were gay you just had to suppress it, and if you were disabled you were patronised if you were lucky but doomed anyway. All the kids played together (except of course that little disabled girl, can't even remember her name) so there was no end of bullying that you had to put up with and if we did anything wrong our parents would hear about it from one of the neighbours, who made it their business to exert control because they’d missed out on promotion in the army during the war, and my god they could be vindictive and brutal. I want to recreate that sense of community, cos I’m like that.”
Yes maybe I'm being a little unfair.. But the rosetinting of community really is unhelpful, because it stifles serious policymaking about neighbourhoods. I know that many neighbourhoods in the past were much better in some respects and much worse in others. Now, can we move on?