What is a city?
What defines a city? According to Webster Dictionary, a city is a place where people live and work that is larger or more important than a town. Different countries define what a city or town is, so take a closer look at where you live. Where are you located in proximity to the central downtown? Do you live in an apartment, condo or single family home? Do you have access to public transportation? Is your area bikeable or walkable to many of the things you need to live in the city?
Today most cities are transforming their downtown areas for places that people can work and live. Many of the larger cities such as Chicago have many small sectors that have restaurants, shopping and places to gather after a long day working. These areas have the feel of a small village.People sometimes live in the places they work and often see familiar faces each day. The restaurants and store owners know their customers by name.
Smaller Cities are remaking their downtown areas to feel like villages
In our area, they are converting old factory buildings to loft living and have retail stores below that people can shop or work in during the day. Our downtown will be adding two new grocery stories in 2016. One will be an organic store that only sells locally grown farm produce from the farms located throughout our state or within a 50-mile radius. We even have a few restaurants that only serve regionally grown food. Their menus sometimes list the names of the farmers that grew the food on their menu.
The key is to work with what you have
Sometimes moving is not a possibility. Most people don’t have the money to change their location. Too often, most of us were not thinking of long-term needs when making our choices of where to live. Usually, a few things make the top list when we settle for where we will live. No place is ever perfect and contains all the things that are on our list of qualities of the ideal location to live. We looked for two years and to tell you the truth no homes we looked at met all that was on our list. We had to settle for what we needed at the time. The top of our list was living closer to work, schools, activities which meant less time in the car. We were so tired of all the time we were spending in our cars driving to and fro!
Here are some things to consider when trying to live organically in the city and designing your space
- Do you have a grocery store that sells organic or chemically free food
- Do you have access to food grown locally such as farmer markets throughout the week
- Is there a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in your city which is a popular way to buy local food directly from a farmer
- Does your city have community gardens available
- An Urban Farm-some communities have urban growers that supply for local people
- Do you have space near where you live to grow some of your food,for example, your own property, vacant lots, unused areas for raised beds, others that share your desire to grow food in the city
I live in the Quad Cities
The Quad Cities is a region of four counties in southeastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois which is separated by the Mississippi River. The urban center includes five main cities: Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline in Illinois. These core cities are the metropolitan area known to most people as the Quad Cities. Our population is close to 500,000 if you include the smaller cities on the edges of this metropolitan area. The main cities all have downtowns, and they are connected by main roads. When traveling between cities, it is hard to know which town you are in unless a sign is visible.
Start with where you live
Once you determine what necessary resources are available locally in your city than it is time to start back at the center of your life; Your apartment, condo or single family home. I suggest you pick up a notebook or journal to sketch or jot down ideas or things that you want to happen in your central space, your home.
It is spring time here in the Quad Cities, so I am making some changes and looking at what needs to happen to make our home a place we can live organically. I don’t have a large lot which means each season; I have to sit down and figure out what I need to grow. I keep a journal which is no more than a spiral notebook with ideas as to how I see our place developing. I do not live in the country. I live in a vibrant urban area which is adding new ways to help us live an organic life in the heart of the city. Our Urban Potager is changing each season and in 2016 you will notice I no longer grow some vegetables, herbs or flowers due to lack of space, adding more perennial food, and just growing what we use most and what is best to create a home that heals us and nature. We all have to work with our spaces and just like our plants; we grow with our spaces. Let’s Get Growing!