What Made Up a Real Neighborhood?
The author and journalist James Howard Kunstler, in his essay The Public Realm and The Common Good, articulates his arguments for the lack of what he labels as “the public realm” and “the common good” in America. Numerous arguments have been given to support his interesting ideas and they left a big question mark for readers to think about. Kunstler vigorously claims “Our civic life is tattered and frayed” (459) when speaks of “from the big city to the remotest rural trailer court” (459). To some extent, what he argues is relatively true to most American cities. Apparently, his thoughts are also applied in many new neighborhoods in the south of Vietnam. The importance of communication or socialization within a community and the absence of public spaces have been lately disregarded by the local members. Neighborhood is a significant portion of a city or a town. According to Kunstler, “the neighborhood is limited in physical size, with a well-defined edge and a focused center” (465) and it bears the size as a five-minute walking distance from the edge to the center. However, in Vietnam – a much smaller country, a neighborhood is usually defined as the size of ten or fifteen houses together (most houses in urban and suburban Vietnam do not have a lawn or a property land), separated by streets or commercial and community spaces such as huge buildings or parks. There is no apparent boundary between business zone and living zone since houses or apartments exist everywhere in the city. My home in Vietnam is located in a fairly new and quiet neighborhood of a pretty big town by the ocean. I have never observed the change in my neighborhood but rather experienced it. A neighborhood is normally set up by its residents’ relationship. It is a tradition that next-door neighbors are habitually entitled to be closed friends or sometimes family members. Conversations between people in the same neighborhood are present...
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