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Gratitude for a Country Road (And All of You!)

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States and this afternoon I will I embark on my annual journey to see both sides of my family within a span of 5 hours. While many folks have the tradition of watching the Macy’s parade, watching football and eating copious amounts of food, my most unique Thanksgiving tradition involves one long country road.

On a regular basis, the concept of one road=one family rules my life. Within ten minutes I can be at my mom’s house. Five for my dad’s. Of course you’ve picked up on the houses being separate, but it’s been so long, I’ve worked at making sure it doesn’t feel like there was separation.

Meanwhile, on Thanksgiving, it’s worked out on many years that both family celebrations are within 30 minutes of each other, connected by one (technically four, but it’s close enough) country road.

I’m very thankful for that country road. It’s the same road I learned to drive on and it’s taught me the value of the rural environment. As I drive over the rolling hills of the North Carolina Piedmont, I see small farms. I see all types of home architecture, including one house that keeps adding turrets, stained glass windows and doors. My mom and I have bets on it being a bed-and-breakfast, but who knows? There’s even a small waterfall cresting from a dam at another point of the journey.

This road and the country surrounding it is why I love the urban transect so much. For those of you who aren’t urban planners, the urban transect is a system developed in the 1990’s to portray the optimal progression of land use. It goes from New York level urban density, to un-claimed natural land. In between there are levels for used farmland, small town main-streets and even lesser dense suburbs. It accounts for all the desired land uses in a way that honors compact living, efficient development and the need for some communities to have space from their neighbors. It allows for the rural areas much like the ones I’m visiting today to exist in a modern, urban-centric, placemaking scheme.

We talk about density and connectivity and the ability to bring communities together in the placemaking blogosphere on a regular basis. Thanks to this road, and the years both families gather on this road, I get to feel what it’s like to be a part of my first community, my own family.

And on that note, let me take the time to express my thanks and gratitude to everyone who has followed me on Twitter and Facebook, given me a byline in another publication, read and shared this blog, heard me speak , invited me to speak and all of the above and more. Let us all be grateful for the great places in our lives and work hard to preserve them all.

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