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The Search for Soul in Every Corner of the Neighborhood

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Does Arlington really lack a true soul in its community? Some seem to think so. But what does having a soul mean? Is it the liveliness of a downtown, or the unique character of small businesses? And can public policy really affect that character of a neighborhood?

The answer is yes, at least according to Ben at Grist.

Having a soul is not really a serendipitous occurrence. It's something that can be instilled into the fabric of bricks, beams, and mortar.

What do neighborhoods have that feel full of life? A few things: charming buildings that are human-scaled, and narrow streets that encourage pedestrian flow. Row house neighborhoods often come to mind when the search for charm is on. Georgetown is a prime example.

In other cities, New Orleans, Savannah, Boston, and San Francisco also suit the description, because they were designed with consideration for foot traffic, rather than transportation on four wheels.

Back to Arlington, the poor city being picked on as having no personality. What would bring it back to life? Adler suggests that buildings that are facing the street, rather than hiding behind buildings, are key. Prominent sidewalks that provide constant paths to key places are also important. No strip malls. And plenty of thought to making a cities arms open wide to each individual person, so they'll feel comfortable to wander, explore, and linger.