An important aspect in planning for the future is also taking into consideration healthy living.  Completely isolated suburbs that are only connected through the use of an automobile is dangerous to the wellbeing of a person.  There are multiple aspects that must be taken into consideration when there is negative housing sprawl.  If there is a lack of community activities along with a community center that organizes games and festivals and activities, the people of the sprawled out town are sapped of social interaction which is vital for mental health.  Isolation in the home can have negative effects over time.  This can also be seen in prisons but accelerated at a faster pace as the square footage is much smaller.  Over time prisoners become distraught which lead to a wide array of mental problems including suicidal thoughts.  The suicide rate in prisons ranged from 18 to 40 per 100,000 during the past three decades.  This idea for Planning Professionals has not been thought about in such a way that sprawl planning may have something to do with this growing problem.  There is about 38,364 suicides every year in the US.  It is important to note that most deaths may not be related to a lack of social interaction but it may have something to do with it.  “We began to see evidence of this in ‘50s when depression became common among stay-at-home housewives and valium was thought to be the solution.” 

It is important than for some professionals in the planning field to break this mind numbing trend that we are dangerously navigating.  More and more children are growing up in isolation and not receiving the social interaction needed to grow up and be a healthy adult.  Instead children are turning to technology to give them a fragmented version of reality.  This is not the type of interaction that adults want their kids to learn from but they have no choice with longer commutes and more traffic keeping families separate from each other.  In order to curb this trend planners must examine what we have now currently and what can be done to the community to uplift and change this trend of isolation.  Although technology can be seen as a symptom of the problem, it can also be a solution.  Community planners must then think of new buildings where community sports can be played such as baseball, softball, football, soccer, tennis, and swimming.  The newly designed buildings, if possible can then be connected to the nearby neighborhoods with an ideal walking distance.  Technology was also mentioned as a possible help for the future.  Planners could work with computer engineers and possibly set up a system that connects to the homes nearby and helps the parents by helping them arrange who is available to take the children to an activity or event.  Planners must continue to head in this direction and use the tools around them efficiently if we are to continue to grow as a healthy society.

Advertisements