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Staying Home


By: 
Charles Bogue
Date: 
Saturday, October 17, 2009
In: 
Napa Valley Register

Some of the more fortunate may have escaped unscathed from this deep and painful recession, but for everyone else there is no area of our lives that has not been affected.

A Darwinian perspective on changes in money and society provides the ultimate test as to what stays and what goes as we create a new culture to carry us into the future.
One reflection of change within our society is the degree to which the population moves from one home to another and the attitudes behind those decisions. Mobility in essence defines what it is to be American, in contrast to our European counterparts. Historically we change cars, clothes, jobs, houses and spouses as if there were literally no tomorrow.

Mobility, a genetic fact of American life, is part a new and lasting trend referred by author Joel Kotkin as “new localism.” He writes: “The basic premise; the longer people stay in their homes and communities, the more they identify with those places, and the greater their commitment to helping local businesses and institutions thrive, even in a downturn.”

In the Napa Valley residents have recognized how a local collective effort can have a far greater effect on economic recovery than any stimulus program from Sacramento or Washington. But, within this effort for a seemingly short-term recovery has emerged the long-term value of community identity. Forced by unavailable jobs, fallen housing prices, limited lending sources and tight credit, many homeowners have turned their attention from the option of moving to options within their communities.

The current financial inability to move to another city or state has caused residents to look at their community as part of their personal identity. As the merging of personal and community identity expands, residents take greater pride in, contribute more time to, and spend more money in their home towns.

Senior citizens and retirees are another group that is being forced to stay put as opposed to buying that retirement home in the sun. They are finding enjoyment in adult children coming home, close proximity to grandchildren, spending time with old friends and spending what money they havelocally.

Another discovery, documented right here, is that corporate professionals will choose to remain in the town they have become a part of as opposed to relocating for more money or a promotion. This group has chosen quality of life over quantity and has accepted that the value of identity in the community is preferred to the rewards of nomadic corporate life.

Scarcity brings about Darwinian adaptation via innovation and change. When we have an abundance of anything — time, money, water, food — the problems are few and choices are many. To the degree each is limited it becomes more valued. As the door of excess is closed, a door of opportunity has opened; and all of this from just staying home.

Charles Bogue is a Real Estate Broker in Napa. He can be reached at 486-5511 or e-mail: cbnapa@napanet.net.

Joel on Reason.tv

Watch the full sized video at Reason.com.


Watch Joel in this feature on the role of central planning in Los Angeles. View large version.

Interview on Smartplanet.com

"Greenurbia is the suburbs of the future. The suburbs of the 1950s were bedroom communities for people who commuted into the city. Today, there’s much more employment in the suburbs, and the big change is the number of people working full-time or part-time at home. Having people commute from one computer screen to another doesn’t make sense."

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Praise for The Next Hundred Million

Kotkin has a striking ability to envision how global forces will shape daily family life, and his conclusions can be thought-provoking as well as counterintuitive. It's amazing there isn't more public discussion about the enormous changes ahead, and reassuring to have this talented thinker on the case. — Jennifer Ludden, NPR national desk correspondent

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