Home: Where The Structural Is Personal

November 4, 2012, Washington, DC: A storm like Hurricane Sandy pushes to the forefront many of the topics discussed regularly here on Neighborhood Nomads. In alignment with the tagline at the top of this site, storm stories are stories of our homes, our neighborhoods, and the power — and vulnerabilities — of the physical places we inhabit. The devastation left behind has us focused on our communities, our neighbors, our infrastructure, our cities and our towns. It’s clear at times like this that our connections to the places we call home are both physical and emotional. The structural is personal.

So how can we ensure the safety of our cities and neighborhoods moving forward? What are the pros and cons of living densely? Are our transportation systems resilient enough to withstand natural forces? Do our urban policies encourage wise investments? Are we making sound environmental choices that will enable us to live sustainably? On a more personal level, how can we protect our surroundings and the people within them? Is our home warm and dry? Is our community cared for? Is our neighbor safe?

I’ve been glued to coverage of Hurricane Sandy for the last several days, saddened by the heartbreaking stories people are sharing about their homes and communities, shocked by the photos of damage left behind by the storm. A New Jersey beach town I recently visited is now a cover shot of the storm’s devastation, homes I once snapped pictures of now barely recognizable in aerial images of a neighborhood destroyed by floods. I’ve been uplifted by the resilience of the people who call these fragile landscapes home, and hopeful we’ll work together moving forward to safeguard our structures and our own well-beings.

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