29 March 2013

To the Sicilians: houses and yards

On our last morning in Noto, we were having a wide-ranging conversation with Sebastiano and Anna at the B&B Federica. We showed them pictures of our houses and Sebastiano was surprised that we didn't have walls around our houses, that they were just on the street. That's the American way: lawn and grass, spread out (unsustainable), requires driving which requires highways which leads to more highways and sprawl. Sebastiano and Anna live in the historic center of Noto: streets are narrow, plazas are public yards, houses may have courts or decks but not yards, narrow streets become personal AND public.

Yesterday, back home in Alfred, the weekly Bergren Forum was about the village planning process AND there was a hearing about a proposed change to the zoning code regarding congregate housing (rooming houses, boarding houses, fraternities, sororities, sports team houses, that is, big houses with one kitchen and common area rather than apartments, what we used to call communes). Tangential to both of those conversations were questions and thoughts about vacant lots, sprawl in our hills rather than density in the village, living together in a socially responsible way. I could go on and on about the loss of our colleges playing enough of an "in loco parentis" role. I don't want them to babysit the students but they should be taking significant responsibility for keeping village life sustainable and pleasant. Just like fraternity housemothers used to do.


bklynbiblio said...

Auguri al tuo avventura! Sounds like you had a great time.

gdeecee said...

Yes! Especially the last part.