Apr 302009

I’m trying to play matchmaker between The Front Porch Republic (mostly guys, as far as I can tell) and Free-Range Kids (mostly mothers). On the political spectrum it seems that the Front Porchers are a little more conservative, and the Free-Rangers are more liberal. This, btw, is one of the rare places where it’s not completely ridiculous to say liberal rather than leftish. But the important thing is that both of these groups are bridging across these political divides over topics that are far from superficial. And both are subversive of the established order.

I just posted the following in a Front Porch article by Russell Arben Fox titled, “Walking to school, slackerdom, and other revolutionary acts.”

If you folks aren’t reading Lenore Skenazy’s “Free Range Kids” blog, you should be.

Badger makes a point that reminds me of the discussion about a Skenazy post from last week, “Mom Orders Bickering Kids Out of Car–Ruining them for Life?

You can read the comments for yourself, but here is my take on it. It’s one thing (a bad thing) for the govt to arrest the mother and issue a protection order against her. It’s another thing for her neighbor to say (and I don’t know if this is how it happened), “Here’s your daughter. I found her crying, two miles from home. She says you kicked her and her sister out of your car. I don’t know the whole story, but I’m concerned that something bad could have happened to her.”

Some people conflate the two issues of the government stepping in and the neighbors being critical. But those are two different things. If we want the government to butt out, we need to let the neighbors butt in. That’s what it means when people say, “it takes a village.” Most of us don’t like the neighbors watching our every move and judging how we live. That’s a major reason people have moved away from small towns to the city, where they can be more anonymous. But if we do away with the social controls via neighbors watching each others’ business, then we’ll end up with an increasingly totalitarian welfare-police state to control our relationships.

I can resent living in the neighborhood fish-bowl as much as anyone else, but I like that a lot better than having Big Brother watch out for me.

Back when Hillary wrote, “It takes a village,” a lot of my fellow libertarian-tending conservatives criticized the concept. I tried to get those I know to think of it as a good idea, but without much success. The problem with Hillary is not that she said “village,” but that what she really meant was, “It takes a totalitarian police state to raise a child.”

I cleaned it up slightly to say it the way I should have said it.

And since we’re talking about things like neighborhoods and community, that gives me an excuse to pass on this link that I learned about from someone on the Phred bicycle touring list. There is more than one way to form communities.


The Gizmodo blog introduces it saying: “If this video doesn’t bring a tear to your eyes and make you smile for the rest of the day, you are a cold hearted bastard. Watch it from beginning to end—you won’t regret it.”

I’ve watched it twice so far and have also gone to the “Playing for Change” site to hear more.