Björn Rust (he/him) is a post-industrial designer cum researcher, innovator and educator, developing context-sensitive innovation practices for people, planet and beyond.

Recent writings

  1. Opportunity hoarding
  2. Doing away with bullshit
  3. The course of my life, so far

Walkable

In the past, before the nuclear family and the suburban sprawl they occupied, small communities could be seen as kin, pulling together for common good. By contrast, the small post-modern family units of today live in suburbs far from work and amenity. Even if we enjoy a well-amenitied suburb, our increased mobility means we often still travel great distances to a particular store or service provider. As such, we are increasingly detached from our immediate surroundings and our neighbours. For so many of us, we find communities not based on physical proximity but rather on personal values, which in many cases are mutually exclusive.

But this is not always the case, some communities remain incredibility tight knit. One such group are orthodox and conservative Jews who conform to the Mitzvah. For these groups, operating a motor vehicle on the Shabbat violates the halakha. As such, orthodox and conservative Jews walk to synagogue services on those days. For obvious practical reasons, this simple rule means that everyone in that religious community lives within walking distance from the temple and therefore one another.

For those of us living outside the bounds of conservative Judaism, our communities are defined by the range of our cars, bicycles and to a lesser degree, our mass transit. This means where we live and socialise are often separated by large distances, even if we do not perceive them to be.

Perhaps if we were to bind our lives to smaller spaces, we would build stronger communities. If we all lived, worked, shopped, learned and socialised in one place, we might build better, more democratic neighbourhoods. We might by this virtue develop neighbourhoods with localised food production, and a wide range of basic amenities so many of our suburbs presently lack. It might facilitate a departure from centralised big box stores and cultural homogenisation. It would certainly be more environmentally sound, but then again, it might just create insular and guarded tribalism.

Inspired by: HIP V. HYPE Collective Exchange


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