There is something un-American about gated communities.

Have a look at this short video clip of San Francisco before the earthquake.  The freedom you see there is quintessential American.

We are, supposedly, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Latin America has a lot of gated “pink zones” surrounded by barrios of poverty.  Is that the direction in which we want to go?

I can understand private property, but that doesn’t include streets.  Streets belong to everyone–that’s the whole idea of a street.  We could argue for getting rid of tollways, too (which we should), but that’s a whole ‘nother blog topic.

We should all be able to stroll through any neighborhood in the USA, unhindered, as long as we are minding our own business and respecting the property of others.

We have the right to lock our homes, but not our streets.

How can we claim to be a free society if more and more of our neighborhoods are built with gate houses?

And have you ever driven through a gated community?  It looks like a neutron bomb went off–everything is perfect, but the people are missing.  Occasionally you see a human with a leaf blower.

Peaceful free passage through any residential neighborhood should be a basic human right.  In fact, we should find a way to enhance security in airports without having to ID everyone all the way into the plane.  We should have the technology to do so by now.  A citizen should be able to travel peacefully and freely throughout the US without showing identification.

Mobility and interaction do much to increase a sense of community and mutuality.  The safest streets are the ones with the most pedestrians.  “Quiet and dead” neighborhoods are idea magnets for crime.  Studies have shown (you can look it up) that gated communities actually offer a false sense of security.

It is small wonder that gated communities appear the most often in areas of the world where the canyon between rich and poor is the widest; and it helps to petrify this gap with security systems.  Why would we want to reinforce those differences?  Is the disappearance of a middle class something that we want to institutionalize, geographically?

In Sweden, there is a custom called “allemansrecht” or free access.  Check this website for details.  In a nutshell, you can cross anyone’s property (not just walk by on the street) as long as you are not being a nuisance.

And while we’re at it, let’s build sidewalks and create more pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods.  A community of garage doors does little to enhance livability.  In most American suburbs, children without drivers’ licenses have no way to get anywhere–everything is built to the scale of the automobile.  Small wonder that our suburban young people feel isolated.

By the way, Hell is a gated community!   Matthew 16:18 (via Hal Seed)

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