“Where do you feel your home extends to?”
This is the question David Appleyard asked residents of three streets in San Francisco in the early 1950s in his book, Livable Streets. The diagram above shows the outlines that residents of a light-traffic street drew. Below, you’ll find the same diagram for residents of a heavy-traffic street.
The difference is startling. Many residents of the light-traffic street feel that their “home boundary” is the entire block. Meanwhile, residents of the heavy-traffic street all perceive this home boundary to be limited to their building or their apartment. One commented, “Just my apartment, not even that.”
Most people today would agree with the heavy-traffic folks. They would say, “Our home is limited to whatever’s inside our house’s walls.”
I realized recently, though, that, at least in the minds of our older two boys (5-1/2 and 2-1/2), our home extends well beyond the walls of our house. See the figure below.
Our house is as shown, but our boys freely and regularly roam well beyond its walls. Their natural border even extends beyond our yard. They frequent all front yards of the properties two to our left and right, plus the sidewalks and part of the street in front of all these properties, plus the entire house and back yard to our left (they frequently run in and out of there), plus two back yards behind us.
“Home” for my boys is a place well beyond our house that they feel comfortable in. They feel an attachment to every corner of the area I circled. They’re always surrounded here by people they know and like and trust.
As they grow up, I hope and expect that these borders will grow much further.
Would you circle an area well beyond the walls of your home for your child? If not, do you wish you could? Why your boundaries for your kids as big as you’d like?