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Best natural family living city - What is important to you? - Page 2

post #21 of 61

Susan, I hear your frustration!  Losing chickens would be very hard for any child--I can only imagine!!!

Living together with three families hasn't always been easy either!!  We have difficult moments sometimes, but my mom and I joke that just ironing out these difficulties is like earning a new degree.  It isn't easy, but in the end you learn so much about yourself and about people in general and that kind of wisdom is something that you simply need to earn anyway.  Being candid, I have found, is always better than hiding away and not knowing...talk to your neighbor and let her know.  I have a feeling she probably feels the same way!  A pot of coffee when no husbands are around is one of those things that works magic in its own way.  


I think that women are the ones who create community--in general.  If we give them single tasks, men will support it as they can...but it is up to women to weave together those threads.  That means learning how to balance many things at one time is our life's work.  In a nutshell, that's what we're all doing on this Mothering website.  It is a community dedicated to the weaving of motherhood.  It has gone on for years before us and will go on as long as we inhabit the planet.  That impulse to hold our children forever, to walk with our husbands, to honor our parents, and to plant our feet firmly on the earth is a part of everything we do--and it's something that lives in women all over the world.  


Part of the beauty of the modern world is our community.  We can connect with one another from all over the world--our stories and our shared experiences can be brought together instantly from different sides of the world, from different communities, and through that connection that we all have as mothers.  Wherever you lay your head at night, you will at least have your community close by.  In the city, that community is very near.  Maybe if you move to the country, you'll connect more through the internet.  Whatever way you choose, I'm sure you'll be able to create your home wherever you land...after all, that's our job!!

Thanks for sharing!!

post #22 of 61

Oh, I love this topic! I can't wait to find out the city (or cities) that meet these criteria!!! My husband is planning to go back to school and start a second career, for which we'll have to leave our current rural hometown. It's exciting and fun and challenging to think of all the options out there. Thank you, Mothering, for doing the work and figuring out the best place to live! If I have my way, we'll move to whichever city you deem the winner! 

Thanks again.

post #23 of 61

Love this post!  We are moving this year with the goal of living more naturally.  Moving out of a larger city!

post #24 of 61

-clean air and water- accomplished in part by use of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar, a user-friendly/family-friendly public transportation system (that's why we left Atlanta, so much smog and lack of user-friendly public transportation system)

-relatively low cost of living (low average rent, reasonably prices homes with decent mortgage rates)

-low-unemployment rate and plenty of ethical, family-oriented businesses 

-plenty of hiking trails, nature preserves, farms where families can experience nature together

-access to alternative preschools and public education options (Montessori schools, elementary schools which emphasize fine arts or world languages etc.)

-Environment which promotes and provides opportunities for community and connecting with others

-Plenty of alternative health practitioners (naturopaths, homebirth midwives, doctors of traditional Chinese medicine, etc.)

post #25 of 61

Public transportation is really important to me too.  When we were in Detroit, MI for a wedding, I was surprised to find that there is such a little emphasis on transportation.  I spoke with an urban planner not long ago and I mentioned this.  He explained that the auto industry wanted a city where the emphasis was on making it a driving-friendly city.  Because of this, and because of the down-turned economy (loss of jobs in the auto industry to compound that), the city suffered terribly.  Now they are trying to revive the city based on the public transit system.  It's a good illustration of how interconnected things can be in an urban setting.  

I love your list, Jen!! 


post #26 of 61
  • Sidewalks and bike lanes
  • Options for out of hospital birth
  • Health food stores
  • Farmer's markets
  • Parks and playgrounds
post #27 of 61
Lots of parks and swimming pools, libraries, and great schools.
post #28 of 61

These are great lists, and I love what others are saying!


On the top of my list are: cooperative grocery store, farmers markets, community gardens, lots of bike paths, good public transportation, car sharing program, excellent de-centralized library system, strong neighborhoods with their own character & events (festivals, street parties, etc.), many public parks, many community arts organizations, ethnic diversity, gay-friendliness.


In terms of the cost of living question, what I'm most interested in is seeing that the community invests in itself, not necessarily that taxes are low (for example). And I expect to invest in my community in a variety of ways, including financially. My city (Madison, WI) is not outrageously expensive, but is high for the Midwest, and our property taxes are definitely higher than in the other Midwest college towns that I've lived in. But what we get for our tax dollars is so fantastic, I'm happy to pay it. We have amazing parks, bike paths, libraries, a jillion free or low-cost things to do with kids, excellent snow removal and street cleaning, to name just a few. We've been able to get rid of owning a car altogether because of the great alternatives in our community. I personally would rather live in a community where the cost of living is a little higher, and so I need to economize on my household budget, but my quality of life is outstanding because I have access to so many fabulous community resources.

post #29 of 61

I echo everything that has been said, and these lists are making me fall in love with city life even more. Pretty much everything that has been mentioned in this post exists in my town, which isn't 'technically' a city i wouldn't say. it's not really the country either, but it's a great mix of both. it's surrounded by farms which makes it easy to get pasture raised eggs, meat etc but has a lovely culture to it as well, with a bustling downtown. I moved here from a more urban place (very natural living friendly) where i could walk to a billion things from my house and now i have to drive into town. this alone has made me really miss the city! but we wanted land and space, and that wasn't happening for the price in the city. now at night we can see the stars, my kids will grow up with a forest/animal farm in their backyard, we grow most of the food we eat, and most importantly, my family lives 5 minutes away. In my personal experience, Austin, Portland and Berkeley are the most natural family living friendly cities i have seen. we'll see who wins!

post #30 of 61
Originally Posted by CI Mama View Post



In terms of the cost of living question, what I'm most interested in is seeing that the community invests in itself, not necessarily that taxes are low (for example). And I expect to invest in my community in a variety of ways, including financially. 


Me too.  We pay very high city taxes in my town, but the return is amazing:  super amazing public parks, pools, ice rinks, subsidized transportation, funds for bike lanes, etc.  The city is even devoting funds to roof-top farming here (for those not familiar with NYC - we have a lot of flat roof-tops - including huge industrial complexes who have agreed to allow farming on their roofs).  You know, this concept would have been inconceivable 20 years ago, but I think the demand for green living has finally taken hold and even people who you wouldn't expect to agree to this type of stuff are excited about it.  I belong to a massive food co-op where more and more "mainstream" people are buying into the concept of sustainable living.  So much has happened since my youth (although not fast enough) but it excites me!

post #31 of 61

My city is known to be great in practically all the ways mentioned above. Except the power-down at night idea - I had never heard of that but look forward to learning more.


A couple features I love that I don't think have been mentioned:


Welcoming and supportive to immigrants and refugees - I think we all benefit from fresh ideas, cultures, and experiences. This is especially true for children.


Good services for elders - not only do we need to remember that "family" means all generations and stages. Our kids benefit from the reality of contact with elders as part of their community.

post #32 of 61

For my family natural play areas are a must ! this area includes things like, river, creak, ocean ect. acsess, as well as large wooded areas for exploration.

post #33 of 61

One thing I forgot to add that I love about Kansas City, Missouri is all the community pools that offer free swim time at different times of the week. Because of this, we are able to take our girls swimming three different afternoons a week during the summer.


Of course, this may not be unique to my city. Do other city pools have free days?

post #34 of 61

Susan, we have free swim every weekday during the summer from 1-3, just two blocks from our house.  It is inside, but when we don't want to go to our outdoor pool (too hot, raining, etc.) we'll go over to take a dip.  We have a bunch of pools that do that around the entire city.  Those are our tax dollars at work!!  


Crys, I think that's a good point.  I kind of lumped that in with "diversity", but it's actually worth saying on its own.  I know our city is relatively good with immigration, but we have heard horror stories too, from our friend who is an immigration attorney.  Fresh ideas and perspectives are one of the reasons that we love the city.  It just has so much energy!!!  My husband is a philosophy professor and we live almost on the university campus and three miles away from another major university as well.  That also brings new and fresh ideas/people to the mix.


We live sandwiched in between a great lake and a river.  If you walk just a few blocks east or west, you will run into water.  At the river's edge, the city almost entirely disappears and, except for a few sights as you travel down the river, you cannot tell that the location is an urban one.  Our favorite is to go and watch the salmon swimming upstream.  We also occasionally go canoing and bird watching there.  We regularly see heron, fox, deer, and a host of wildlife that you would never expect live in the middle of an urban landscape!!!


Cats Cradle, I agree with you--so many things are happening in our city that are just so exciting!  It seemed like all at once when the city suddenly jumped on the ecological bandwagon, and although I do think we were doing a great job when it felt like it was just a few of us, I think it's incredible what we've accomplished with so many people on board!!  We don't power down at night, but it could be something to suggest to the county supervisor who lives only a few houses away.  

I think people are surprised to hear that you can live really naturally/sustainably in a city.  Sometimes I think everyone has this idea that cities are big dirty places and that the only good/safe places to live are far out in the country/suburbs.  We moved to the city because I really wanted to live somewhere where everything we wanted was within walking distance.  Because we can walk/bike just about everywhere, we cut out on our carbon footprint by such a big margin.  Because we can recycle just about everything, and have someone pick up our compost, we end up with very little in our waste bin.  We use gas and electricity, but our house is much smaller than we'd afford in the suburbs and therefore we use less gas/electricity than we would with a much bigger house.  And also our house has three families--when one person heats their home, it is shared (through the floors) with the other homes.  And as I said before, we don't have much space and so we have to live a life of imposed simplicity.  I don't know that, if I had lived in a bigger house with a huge basement and an attic, I would have been so clever...nor would I have learned to live with less.  My children have grown up without many useless toys, and because we regularly take things over to the goodwill (we have one two blocks away!) they also know how to part with things and to give freely.  Every time a friend comes over, my children send them home with any toy that their friend likes to play with!  I'm always surprised at how they can part with toys/things so easily since I was never like that as a child--in fact, I was very possessive of my things!


In any event, I think this is such a great thread.  People downplay living in the city because of the obvious disadvantages...but they are so small in comparison to what things we all get in return.   Once my husband suggested we move to the country and try to live off the land.  Just thinking of it brought me nearly to tears.  I love people and we have such an incredible community that even the thought of leaving gave me a heartache.   Not everyone loves people and community as much as we do, but it is so many little things that we enjoy about city life that make it all worth while.  I'm sure it isn't for everyone, but I'm also sure that there are some people who would never try it if all they heard was the crime, smog, and noise.


post #35 of 61
Originally Posted by mamarhu View Post

My city is known to be great in practically all the ways mentioned above.


Do tell! What IS this perfect city?!
post #36 of 61

I live in a pretty crunchy smaller university town(s). 


Here are things I like about our area:


Free city buses

Great food scene (restaurants, farmer's markets, CSAs, community gardens)

Great local co-op, also Trader Joe's and Whole Foods (my area of about 80,000) is able to support all these plus mainstream groceries and specialty food stores

Great art & music scene

Free standing birth center

Many alternative health providers

Top notch traditional medical providers

Expanding greenway system

Many bike lanes (big bike culture with lots of folks having a bike for primary transport)

Good parks & rec centers

Natural spaces in-town

Local festivals (music, crafts)

Town recycling, town sells compost bins periodically and encourages composting although they don't pick it up

Very LGBT friendly

Excellent public schools

Great alternative private schools (Waldorf, Friends, Forest Kindergarten)

Fantastic secular homeschooling community

Backyard chicken friendly

Lots of natural wooded yards and lots of gardens in front yards as well as back yards.

Great public library (has the highest circulation of any library in the state)



There is a free city pool and also an aquatic center  with a nominal fee ($2 per person?) as well as many neighborhood pools (membership fee), and the Y pool. 


Geographically we're about 3 hrs from the beach and about 3 hrs from the mountains. There are plenty of woods, creeks, rivers, and lakes to play in right around here, but it's nice to have the beach and the mountains for a weekend getaway.

post #37 of 61

Sidewalks.  I never thought about how important they are until I moved into a neighborhood without any.  It is awful.  Portland is a very walking friendly town, and in my neighborhood, no one walks.


Safe bike corridors.


Availability of fresh food/local food.


Public Transit options.


Lots of open space/parks/available nature.


A variety of housing options.


I'm sure I will come up with more.

post #38 of 61

I think the sidewalk issue depends on how much car traffic the neighborhood/street gets. We have a good amount of sidewalks on the busy roads in our town, but in our neighborhood we don't even have curbs and gutters and it doesn't impede anyone walking because it's such a low traffic area. (No through streets). One thing our neighborhood does make difficult is biking because it's so hilly and curvy, but the dedicated still do it. I'm a wimp and avoid the hills by going out our backyard and that's relatively flat. I can get to the greenway pretty easily from there (maybe .5 miles) and from the greenway it's about 1.5 miles to the library.


I think the thing that makes the most difference to me when thinking about Natural Family Living is being in a community of like-minded people. Even if our town didn't have all the great amenities it currently does, if we're in community we can make those things happen.

post #39 of 61
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post

One thing I forgot to add that I love about Kansas City, Missouri is all the community pools that offer free swim time at different times of the week. Because of this, we are able to take our girls swimming three different afternoons a week during the summer.


Of course, this may not be unique to my city. Do other city pools have free days?

Indoor pools in our city charge $1 for drop-in swimming for indoor pools. You can get discounts if you purchase a 10 time punch card or unlimited swimming on a 3, 6 or 12 month basis.

The outdoor pools are free. There are 96 outdoor pools across the city. Some of them are just wading pools, but others are larger swimming pools with toddler pools, accessible walk in pools, larger swimming pools with deep ends, and even some pools with dedicated pools for water slides. They have washrooms, change rooms and showers. And all free.


(I live in Toronto).

post #40 of 61



I think the list is great but I would say walking pleasantly is one big one. With more than 3 children and what we carry to stay healthy, walking works, subways do too. Buses, ehh. 

No fracking in joining counties. 

Not a high level of factory farming near by, or dioxin releasing onto farm land places  (I think cotton and paper products are the worst right?

Not so many interstates near all the farming (green barriers)

I would pick very little takeout over a jumbo amount of fast food, but any good Vegetarian places would be my top picks. 


ETA: I just went to a Asheville and now Ithaca and fear I might be changing my view on my picked out place. It think any kind of presence - companies, plants, or just plain marketing - is actually a statement of the people there. I felt it. I really could jump on that vs a nice wealthy city with lots of resources. I like the popularity of the holistic lifestyle being the first thing you say about a place vs a sprinkle. I think it is always in the progressive mix, but I view progressive and holistic sometimes can be taken differently. I would view holistic as having a spiritual element that is also progressive. 

Edited by greenacresmama - 7/22/12 at 9:51pm
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