It's no secret I believe reading changes hearts and minds. And it's no secret that I have a weird fascination with urban planning books. But I haven't shared how urban planning books changed my mind in an area you might not be expecting.
Here's the thing. Urban planning books got me thinking in a new way about the physical shape of the communities I live in and move through, and the way those things affect their inhabitants. Sidewalks, parking, crosswalks. Zoning, development, roads. Libraries, parks, playgrounds.
Over time I've learned how to articulate what kind of spaces I want to live in. I've learned good things like these don't happen by accident; they require long-term, community-minded planning. I've learned good things like these cost money. All this brings me to ... politics.
All this reading changed the way I look at political races, especially local ones. It changed the way I vote.
I'll be honest, when I head to the polls in a few weeks, sidewalks are not top of mind right now, not in this 2020 landscape. But I'm acutely aware that when we vote, we cast a ballot for the kind of world we want to live in. This year I'm yearning for—and voting for—a world with more room for compassion and grace, as well as one with affordable health care, a commitment to social justice, and a plan to get out of this pandemic.
These are good things. We will not get them by accident. And it's long been clear we will not get them from our current presidential administration.
It's not a perfect system, but it's what we've got. Vote. And when you do, vote for the kind of world you'd like to live in.
It's worth noting that our democracy is a system that was built for robust debate and disagreement—and that is just fine. I look forward to the day when both parties in our two-party system bring thorough and articulate arguments to the issues of the day—and do so without the hate, racism, sexism, bigotry, violence, and greed we've seen from the current administration.