Thursday, September 6, 2007

762 Single Family Dwellings

Message no. 762[Branch from no. 760] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Wednesday, April 4, 2007 4:43pm Subject: Re: Varshawn- Relational Summary

Welcome back online Varshawn! Hope you got your computer situation worked out! You comments about "suburban detached homes" made me recall a visit I made to a Dyak village in the jungles of Eastern Borneo back in the Mid 1990s. The Dyak had a tradition of building what they call "longhouses" -- these impressive long long long houses in which many families lived together. You entered from a ladder on one side of what looked like an enormous train without wheels, built on stilts, with a thatched roof. Then you made your way down an aisle in the center and there were rooms on either side. The walls were carved out of wood with cool figures. It was enchanting. We then visited an area where missionaries where working hard to introduce Western technology and ideas along with their interpretation of scripture. One Indonesian minister, trained in the U.S., told me "God doesn't want people to live in long houses. In long houses there isn't enough privacy." He took us to a place where they had used development money to build suburban type detached single family homes. It looked like Ohio dropped in the jungle. He said, "God prefers families to live seperately, so that a man only sees his wife and she only sees him, and they don't mix their children with other children."

It was useless to try and discuss the statistics of infidelity in the suburbs of Ohio, where wife-swapping and divorce and drug use and other indiscretions plague suburban enclaves for reasons that could have as much to do with suburban isolation and living in single family detached homes without the supervision and moral guidance of grandparents, uncles and aunts and other kin to help people stay faithful to family norms.

Apparently the modernist approach to reproducing labor and selling real estate had caught hold of the missionaries and development officials and they were trying to use any argument to destroy the long houses and the social fabric of the Dyak and put them all into little styalized work camps where they could be monitored and controlled.

I wonder if people really do prefer living in single family dwellings -- certainly there is a time in a families life when this is appropriate, but as people age they tend to want to live together in larger social groupings again, or suffer tremendous loneliness and isolation. Also, as the author of the blog we looked at in the post about "white flight to the suburbs" pointed out -- why is it better for children to play in a "backyard", isolated from other children, when they could play together in a common park?

I am suspicious of the trend toward single family dwellings. Having just come back from a kibbutz in Israel where I was teaching children about solar energy, I like the idea of raising kids communally. Hmmmm. What do you think?

A final question: If builders are using bricks and sheet rock because it is cheaper, why are the homes more expensive? When I read your second to last paragraph I thought " Hey... what's up! ? Are we being swindled?"

Let me know what you think explains this phenomenon!

Good job,


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