One more time: what does livability look like?October 27, 2010
By Stephen Lee Davis
In an interview with Streetsblog Network alum Sarah Goodyear in her new post at Grist, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood sheds a little light via some personal reflection on how he came to understand livability — a concept that many folks might guess he had never heard of 20 months ago.
Of course, just like most Americans, he knows exactly what “livability” is, once you get past the terminology:
Q. So tell me, what does this concept of “livability” really mean?
A. This is something I’ve never really talked about, but growing up, I lived on the east side of Peoria. When I was growing up, I could walk to my grade school. We had one car, but we would bike everywhere we went. We could walk to the grocery store. In those days, we had streetcars and buses, which people used to get to downtown Peoria, which was probably five miles from my house. I used to take a bus to my dad’s business. I grew up in an era [of] livable neighborhoods and livable communities — what we’re really trying to offer to people around America…
Seems like there’s a useful lesson in here somewhere about the power of words and language to not only illustrate meaning, but sometimes get in the way of clear understanding.