A Community by Design

About two weeks ago I started addressing some of the concerns I’ve heard about this blog and some of the efforts of its contributors. In one post I talked about how nonofficial venues are not threats but complements to the formal work of the civic association and its committees. In another post I addressed the misconception that advocates for stricter enforcement of the Guidelines are die-hard preservationists who want to freeze the neighborhood as it was fifty years ago. To the contrary, we think the guidelines, not individuals’ own particular views, should be the standard. Now I take up two other concerns I heard early on — that we value design over community and that we somehow are denigrating the work of volunteers.

In a reply a while back to a post, one person wrote that she moved here for the community, not the design. Yet so many of the elements of the design are just what makes this communtiy so open, and all of us a bit vulnerable. We can’t hole up behind eight-foot fences. The borrowed vistas, the open floor plans, the walls of glass keep us connected to each other. This design isn’t for everyone. Let those who love their colonials live in them. Those who like openness, simplicity, and connections to nature do well here, and I think they find themselves in the company of others of a similar bent. So, I think, many of us may have found our way here because we loved the houses, but then found out once we were here that the design created one of the most incredible communities in the country.

Of course, design isn’t an abstract notion. Davenport, Goodman, Kiley, and all laid out the physical design. Generations of Hollin Hillers have created and volunteered in the organizations that preserve and enhance it. What other place supports two swim clubs, lots of cultural clubs, parks committees, websites, design review, and ongoing committees to review by-laws, guidelines, etc.? The best way to honor generations of this kind of service and commitment to the community is to continue to serve and honor those institutions and traditions. To advocate for the design review process, for openness and transparency, is to honor generations of such volunteer work.

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