There’s so many things that go into what makes one feel safe in their city… the streets, the people, the schools, how everything interacts. Being in Perugia this past month, including my walks through Borgo Bello has made me think more and more about where I come from and what home means to me. In general, I think it’s safe to say we feel that home is wherever we feel most comfortable, where we know our surroundings and get to know a place inside and out. It is our comfort zone.
I grew up in Shelton, Connecticut, which is a mid-size, primarily middle class town about an hour from New York. I was always used to big yards, a pretty good school system, local hangouts, and to be honest, not much diversity in everything from the people, to how everything looked, or how people lived their day to day lives in general. However, this is what I grew up with. I could never imagine living somewhere where children didn’t have a yard to play in or a go-to spot to grab lunch. I think it’s the little things like this that make one feel safe. They create their own little spot in town, which gives a sense of ownership, a sense of belonging. With this, I never felt unsafe growing up. I was fortunate to live in a nice section of town where many people knew each other and everybody was pretty much living the same sort of life…that typical, hardworking but comfortable middle class American lifestyle. There was never really any crime and you never saw a police car in my area, because it was never necessary.
Shelton is the kind of town in which you get to know very well after not even a huge amount of time of being there. You get to know all the best back roads to avoid rush hour traffic on Bridgeport Ave. You learn what the best restaurants are and the small shops and eateries that are locally owned. You also learn that Jones Tree Farm, a huge, family run farm in town is the go-to place for the best Christmas trees. So, I think it’s knowledge like this that creates a safe environment. Once you know an area really well, you either love it or hate it.
To take a more objective position though, I would say that in order for positive place-making to occur, there are several main things that must happen. The first thing that my mind jumps to is a public area for everyone to gather and events to be held. It’s a place for the community to come together and be a location to bond at. Another thing that I immediately think of is safety. Not so much just in the form of law enforcement, but in the sense of the feeling of safety. You want to feel safe walking down the street or leaving a store late at night, and know that those around you have your back. There’s definitely so much that contributes to a safe and comfortable place, and everywhere is different which makes seeing new places fun, but it’s also interesting to see the similarities between everywhere you go.
Huntington Center- the historic center of my section of town. There is a large shopping center with other historical landmarks like colonial churches. It serves as a gathering place for the city.