My observation was meant to be simple. We’re on a trajectory of ever larger, more complex, and highly leveraged institutional “solutions” to endemic social and economic problems that don’t actually make things better. Quite the opposite. What we need are small, direct, hyper local, and incremental responses that address immediate needs at a very low burn rate. This was misinterpreted as, “Oh, you think growing zucchini is more important than solving the housing crisis for working families.” Not what I’m saying. At all.

Everywhere I go in the world, I find older neighborhoods that were built in a surprisingly similar manner regardless of geography, culture, religion, politics, or climate. Philadelphia has a wide variety of established neighborhoods that rarely get above three stories tall (see the photos above). Yet they provide convenient employment, local shops, schools, hospitals, houses of worship, groceries, culture, public parks, universities, and so on. Everything is within a reasonable walk or bike ride of a generous supply of homes.

The residential and commercial activities are completely mixed together. Rich and poor tend to occupy the same neighborhoods in close proximity even if their accommodations are wildly disparate. Before planes, trains, and automobiles there weren’t that many options beyond shoe leather, horses, and sailing ships so urban form and daily customs accommodated that reality.

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