Got Public Realm?

For a town that is so wealthy (median income = $98k, median home price = $525k) the downtown public realm of Medfield is remarkably shabby:

Here we are at the primary downtown crossroads. (Pretty much every small town in this region has at least one pizza house, and amazingly, they have withstood the competition of malls and chains for decades.) In case you were wondering, the flowers in the window boxes are fake.

The reason that the public realm is neglected is simple: nobody spends much time there. There is little reason to linger in this downtown. You park as close as possible, run in, pick up your pizza and take it home. There is no grocery store. Shopping for most other necessities is done at the mall.

In Medfield, life revolves around the private realm. The single-family home is an enclave; the focus on the private reinforces the neglect of the public, and vice-versa.

Inside the enclave, the backyard looks like this:

And the electronic entertainment center likewise sucks up any motivation the adults may have to leave the property and seek culture.

This trend toward isolation taxes community bonds as it taxes human sanity. But our instincts for socializing are strong, and surface in unexpected ways. The current social nucleus of Medfield may well be here:

One Response to “Got Public Realm?”

  1. rbj

    How long are you in Medfield for?

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