Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Path To Community

We've discussed trail benefits relating to real property values, resident expenditures, commercial benefits, tourism and, finally, benefits relating to health.  All of these benefits have been measured, codified, and have been the subject of many articles and studies.  One final benefit I’d like to review here though, has not been talked about that much but may be, in the final analysis, the most important of all: a path to a greater sense of community.

Being connected to other people in our community is more and more difficult and unlikely in these days of being insulated by cars, gated communities and busier and busier schedules.  Between the hectic pace of our lives and our increased mobility, it can be difficult for communities to come together in any meaningful way; in other words, there is no ordinary way to meet, greet and “commune” with ones neighbors.  Yet being connected to our neighbors can make us feel happier, safer and even healthier.  It can also lead to better functioning governments and schools. 

Trails can be the viable solution to bringing together people who are living disparate lives.  As people spend more time on a nearby trail, they meet neighbors, discover shared interests and make new friends.  New clubs form to enjoy or care for the trail.  Employees of businesses near trails have the chance to spend a lunch break walking together, ultimately improving teamwork. 

Many have suggested that having a greater sense of community can be one of the solutions to many of modern society’s ills.  Trails can lead us to that greater sense of community.