Sunday, 10 January 2010

The upside of snow

Posted on This is My Truth on 10 January

Despite the grumbling the snow covered roads have served as a reminder of how things used to be. This week many residential streets have been recaptured as a social space. With cars taken off the roads people have been socialising with their neighbours and children have been playing freely outdoors. I've spoken with neighbours I've never met before as they've been forced out of their 4x4s and walked instead.

By getting to know their neighbours better parents are typically a lot happier letting their children play in the streets. As well as being less fearful of traffic, parents tend to be less concerned about 'stranger danger' when they feel neighbours are keeping an eye on the street.

Research shows that the greater the levels of traffic the lower the level of social interaction. When streets are dominated by cars people tend to sense danger and retreat indoors. Rather than allowing children to play outside parents feel happier if they are 'safe' indoors playing with an Xbox. This trend coincides with rising levels of childhood obesity - a trend which is now classed as an epidemic.

When the snowmen have melted minds will be turned to the lessons to be learned from low grit levels and the strain on the National Grid. But perhaps there are other lessons to learn from the snow too.