In the fifth of his "place-decoding" series from France, Chuck Wolfe recalls how we carry with us the ability to mine pride from place, even in places that are, perhaps, least expected to shine.
What do the politics of urban housing have to do with a seasonal caravan park in Provence, asks Wolfe?
Plenty, he notes, tying current debates about housing affordability in his native Seattle to exemplary illustrations from a manufactured housing community near Fréjus.
Recapping current focus both in Seattle and nationwide on issues such as micro-housing and linkage fees, he suggests that it is time to remember underlying, qualitative issues:
Our political discussions, mired in jargon and positioning, often lose sight of a human pride of place inherent in even the simplest forms of shelter.
He suggests, that when people take pride in where they live, their homes' appearance shows a bonding with the place, often with considered ingenuity. He provides examples from the Domaine du Pin de la Lègue, a 53 year-old caravan park (in American terms, a seasonal manufactured housing community), where, in addition to many "urban" services, there is the "pride of place surrounding the small living spaces in the homes all around, from clever retrofits to landscaping and rockeries befitting the best of single-family neighborhoods":
In the ways called for among some urban redevelopment movements today, small-scale innovation is on display---it's a locale where the plot-based, lean and pop-up urbanism movements of the United Kingdom and the United States merge with some admirable diversity.
Like a neighborhood, notes Wolfe, the homes become nurtured, planted around, and modified in functional ways, without expensive building materials, identities or complex regulatory tools.
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