‘Neighborhood’ culture is not nostalgia
GÜLSE BİRSELWhat happened to all those old Ramadan feasts? What happened to all the old celebration days in the neighborhoods? Actually, it is all still there. But what about you? Where are you?
They say neighborhood culture is finished. No! Although we are still young, we also know what it means to live the neighborhood life. Of course, we do not have childhood memories of stealing fruits from our neighbors’ gardens, but back when we were born there were already no fruit gardens left in the cities.
The houses with gardens were already mostly gone. But today city centers also have their own neighborhood culture. We call it the “apartment block neighborhood”! Indeed, I was born in a five-story apartment building on Barbaros Bulvard in Istanbul. Even today if I cannot hear traffic noises outside I tend to lose my sleep and feel uneasy. I am a regular child of an apartment block.
And actually if you ask me, the “apartment block neighborhood” marks the golden era of neighborhood history. Why? Because it is the most comfortable type of neighborhood relationship.
For example, you do not need to change your morning dress, take off your slippers or remove your hair curlers when you head out to meet your neighbors. You can choose your own menu when you go to visit them, even selecting from your own fridge.
At the end of the day, the “neighborhood” is simply a relationship type consisting of geographical proximity. And because cities are getting more and more crowded, buildings are getting higher and closer to each other. So the geographical proximity between people also increases. Once upon a time, your neighbor was two hectares away; today, 12 different families live on the same floor and you can choose whichever one you like!
Humans are social animals. They start to panic when they can see no one around them. Humans cannot live without a clan. They cannot live without a tribe or without socializing.
There are now a number of residential blocks that cultivate their own “neighborhood culture.” People go to walking trails together. They hang out together at social facilities and sports salons. They walk their dogs together. They meet each other every week while their children play with each other.
A number of skyscrapers have been built attempting to address the needs of young white collar workers. Many residences are therefore filled with 1+1 apartments. Smart construction firms are developing new common areas, effectively turning the apartment block into a “neighborhood” by including areas such as swimming pools, games rooms, cinemas, party rooms, indoor football pitches and barbecue terraces.
As a result, the white collar workers living alone or with a partner do not stay at home all the time. Once a week, half of the habitants in a building meet each other at the barbecue on the terrace. If you get bored, you can head down to the lounge of the building and chat with a different neighbor there. Are we aware of the relations, conversations and love affairs going on in such new “neighborhoods”?
Do you really believe that the neighborhood would ever die? No, it only changes its shape.