A crash course in changing the world.
In 2020 I'll be living in Vancouver with my wife and two children. We will live in a neighbourhood with a strong community, one that has formed through improved densificiation around one of the developing transit nodes. Changes in the planning laws have allowed for more diversity in neighbourhoods and people are now able to work and live in neighbourhoods creating greater interaction between people, improved safety with more people walking, and a much lower environmental footprint through a reduced need to rely on cars.
My children and I use the time that would have been spent having to travel great distances to play in the local pocket park where we play and interact with other neighbourhood children. I know that they're safe from the dangers of traffic as there's a reduced need to travel great distances, so people are now first and cars must stop for them. From traveling to local stores and just simply walking around we've met most of our neighbours, so I know I can leave my children to go tend to my community garden patch.
We live in a multiple unit dwelling with a roof-top garden that we use to grow some vegetables - but we also love to see the life there. In the community garden though, I get a chance to chat with other neighbours apart from those who share the same building.
By increasing the density, we needed to restructure what was socially conceived as a good house. The buildings are closer to the shared corridors - neighbourhood level ones used to be roads for cars, but now they're corridors for people to walk, cycle, or for slow moving vehicles. By reducing the need for cars, we gained a lot of space back that used to be "machine space". That space has been returned to people in the form of gardens and play areas.
I spend my days helping people reconnect with each other through changes in their travel patterns. It's a little easier now to convince people that infrastructure that doesn't solely support cars is better as fuel prices have continued to increase. But what amazes many people, is how much better they feel now. Increased walking has reduced obesity rates, lowering the costs to our national health care, but it's also improved community connections which helped increase safety, reducing the need for personal security measures and increased police service. We still have police, but they act much like the ones in Japan - walking and cycling from their neighbourhood offices.
Speaking of Japan, I'm obviously concerned about the food crisis in Tokyo. My wife and her family are from Japan and we have many friends in the vibrant city of Tokyo. Dependency on foreign food supplies has been a long standing concern for Japan, and luckily they continued to support local farming when cheap fuel made importing cheaper. But the recent increase in typhoons has been terrible for their rice crop.
My field of expertise wasn't able to directly help, but we contributed through volunteering at the Red Cross which has organized for some of Canada's excess crops to be shipped. My wife and I have helped a bit with communication where Japanese and English was needed, but it's hard on her family as all of Japan has seen a sharp increase in food costs.