Monday, September 15, 2008

Big City Values

The other day I was walking down the street and I encountered a double decker tour bus. The top level was populated by folks wearing business suits. They looked incredibly uncomfortable, which wasn't surprising since it was a weekend and the skies looked like they were about to open up and start spilling rain like there was no tomorrow. As it turns out, the clouds managed to hold onto their water for a little while longer, but it was still hot and humid and I didn't envy these folks and their suits and ties. My guess is they were on some sort of a business trip, perhaps in Philly for a convention, and this was supposed to be one of their "fun" outings.

But what really stuck in my head wasn't the uncomfortable men and women sitting on the top level of the bus. It was the juxtoposition of these people with the guy getting out of the mini-van across the street. Shirtless. I can't decide if the bus riders were jealour or disgusted as they watched this guy lock up his mini-van and hop on a skateboard and ride off into the... well, it wasn't sunny, but the sun would have been setting in that direction if you could have seen it.

While we recently moved back from New York to Philadelphia because the pace of life (not to mention the cost of living) is a lot more manageable, it's the little things like this that make me glad to live in a big city. I love seeing two things that you wouldn't think would go well together. I love being able to find cuisine from any nation in the world. And I love being surrounded by people that don't necessarily look like me.

Shortly after my brief skateboard/tour bus incident (yeah, I feel as silly calling it an incident as you probably feel reading it), I met some friends for dinner and was introduced to the people who recently started a new community edited blog called Big-City Values.

The idea is simple. There's been a lot of talk during recent political cycles about "small town values." But who says big city folk don't have values? So readers are invited to share their stories. One recent story is from a woman who's been checking in on a friend's neighbor who has health problems while the guy down the street works on her porch for fun, not profit. Another woman talks about how she appreciates being able to get around without a car. There's also a nice essay on the differences between cities and rural areas -- and the fact that each is no threat to the other, but both share a common enemy -- the suburbs.

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