Why Walkable Cities Are Good for the Economy. As someone who was lucky enough to spend various parts of my childhood in rural, suburban, and (somewhat) urban areas, I have to say that walkable neighbourhoods will always be my favourite places to live. At one point, my family lived in such a rural area that we had to drive for an hour to get to the nearest mall! I can’t tell you all how many times I’ve been grateful to live close to lots of shops now that I’m an adult. It makes life so much easier.
Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without even thinking about it. This means that they grow gardens, walk throughout the day, and minimize mechanical conveniences for house and yard work.
Before I dive into today’s topic, I’d like to make this clear that this post was written as a gentle nudge for people who’d have the time and energy to dedicate to blogging if they knew about the individual and societal benefits of doing such a thing
It is not meant to be a commandment for our friends who don’t (or no longer) have the emotional bandwidth for such a thing. If this describes your life, take care of yourself. I hope things improve for you soon.
Everyone else, keep reading.
Yesterday, one of the blogs I follow shared a link to a site called Parent Hacks.
Asha Dornfest wrote a post there recently about the ways people connected online in the 2000s. Blogging was much more common back then, and it was rarely if ever done for profit.
Instead, people formed communities in the blogging world based on their interests and experiences for the sheer joy of it.
Google did (barely) exist back then, but it wasn’t the best way to find new sites to read. Instead, you met folks through links on other sites or by clicking on their username when they shared an interesting comment on a site you both followed.
I remember following links from the blogs I was already a fan of then to new sites that introduced me to folks who lived in places that were nothing at all like the small, midwestern town where I was growing up. Some of them lived halfway across the world. Others had life experiences that I knew nothing about, and they were gracious enough to explain what it felt like to be them. This process of getting to know strangers over the Internet lead to some beautiful friendships (and even a few marriages, from what I recall).
It also made the Internet a better place to visit, and I’ve been saddened by the slow disappearance of this culture since then.
Asha wants to bring this sense of community back to the Internet, and she’s especially calling on former bloggers to help:
Our blogs could once again be that, writ large, distributed across geographical, political, racial, religious, ethnic and gender lines. No silos, no algorithms. Just real people sharing real stories so other people can read and comment and feel a part of those stories and be reminded about what connects us. Incubating community without a specific agenda beyond sharing of ourselves and connecting people.
Her post specifically talked about rebuilding the United States, but I think this should be something that’s done across the world. The Internet has too often been used for negative purposes. Luckily, this same tool can be used to bring people together instead.
The hashtag that Asha invented for this movement is #netpositiveblog. I will be using it on Twitter, and I hope you’ll all check it out as well.
If anyone reading this needs help figuring out how, when, or what to blog about, I’d be happy to offer you some tips whether you’re a returning blogger or a brand new one.
I’ve been blogging for more than fifteen years now across various platforms, and I have a few tricks tucked up my sleeve for everything from coming up with consistent ideas for new topics to connecting with the wider writing community in general.
Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
In commemoration of this, I’m using today’s post to talk about what my ancestors were doing during that war and share a touching video that was filmed by a former soldier who returned to his old battlegrounds about a decade after he’d originally fought there.
I’ve chosen not to include the names of my ancestors in this post for privacy reasons. If you’re peering at your family tree and wondering if we’re related or if our ancestors might have known each other, I’d be happy to share more details in private.
Mom’s Side of the Family
All of the great-grandparents on my mother’s side of the family were infants or children when World War I began. They were born to various German Mennonite farmers who lived in the midwestern United States, so none of their fathers or other male relatives were soldiers.
This meant that not only did all of my great-great-grandfathers survive the war and remain with their families, they also were able to provide basic food and shelter to their loved ones for the entire duration of it. While some of their fellow church members were imprisoned for refusing to fight, I believe those ancestors might have been given exemptions due to the large families they needed to support and the vital roles they played in producing food for the nation in general.
World War I wasn’t a pleasant experience for anyone, but my mom’s side of the family seemed to have much better experiences with it than many people did back then.
Dad’s Side of the Family
Trigger warning: abuse
I know less about my father’s side of the family, especially during these years. Those ancestors were all still living in Germany at the time, and many of them were rarely if ever willing to discuss their pasts for reasons that will soon become clear.
One of my paternal great-grandfathers was a soldier during World War I. He was shot in the leg and, according to family legend, used spider webs to pack the wound. Spider webs were traditionally used in many cultures to treat wounds back then. They are said to contain anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties. The vitamin K in spider webs may also help reduce bleeding.
Even with the help of this home remedy, the infection he developed in that wound was so serious that he nearly lost his limb. Since this happened more than 20 years before antibiotics became available, I’m honestly surprised that he survived…much less kept his leg!
That is the only story I know from that portion of his life. He took everything else with him to the grave. While his body survived the war without any catastrophic injuries, his mental health was severely affected by the things he experienced during those years. He became physically and emotionally abusive and remained that way for the rest of his life.
This great-great-grandfather died long before I was born, but I still saw the damage he caused lingering on decades after his death. I share this not to speak ill of the dead but to be honest about the true costs of war. Sometimes it’s horrific.
Today I can’t help but to wonder how the lives of his descendants would have turned out differently if he’d either never been through that trauma or lived in a time when he could have gotten real help for the things that plagued him before he became abusive.
The Spanish Flu and My Ancestors
To the best of my knowledge, none of my ancestors contracted the Spanish Flu in 1918. There are no reports of deaths from it in our genealogical records and no stories about anyone being sickened by it either so far as I’m aware. That surprised me a lot given how many people were affected by it worldwide. My great-grandparents and their relatives were all very lucky in this regard.
Colour Footage of the Western Front & Northern France
It was originally shot in 1928 by a man named Charles W. Bridgen who had been a L. Corporal in the 7th London Battalion. He survived battles in Ypres and the Somme. About a decade later he returned to visit those places in peacetime. The resulting footage is hauntingly beautiful. There are even some shots of a wedding that took place in one of the spots he was filming in.
I’d like to thank my dad for sharing it with me recently. It was a touching tribute to what must have been a very meaningful trip for Mr. Bridgen.
What Were Your Ancestors Doing During World War I?
I’d sure like to hear any stories your families might have passed down about them.
The Room via SDJackson85. . This one is for a certain sibling of mine who reads this blog and loves doing construction projects on his home. May he never stumble across anything like this during a future project. Ha!
Books I Want to Read via bjornlarssen. My new friend, Bjorn, wrote this last week in response to something I wrote at the end of October. How cool is that? He included a link to my post at the end of his, so I didn’t feel the need to do it again here. Definitely go check out his post, though. He has excellent taste in books.
And she realized early on that puzzles and games weren’t the answer because they tend to focus on one very narrow task. The result is like exercising just one muscle in your body, Langbaum says. That muscle will get stronger, but your overall fitness isn’t going to change.