This is an article I recently wrote that is related only tangentially to Reinventing Organizations, but that some of you might enjoy nevertheless.
In the West, a grand experiment has been unfolding over the last one hundred years. For thousands of years, humans had been deeply embedded within a broader net of community life — fitted within the spheres of family, social class, faith, and work. But then we shed community and embraced the nuclear family as the container for our lives. We believed this small, isolated structure would allow us to create the lives we really wanted, unencumbered by the demands of extended families, meddling neighbors, and social pressures to conform.
The demands of the collective gave way to the liberation of the individual as, at the turn of the twentieth century, rural dwellers piled into crowded cities seeking jobs. By mid-century, a post war economy made a new exodus possible, and life in the suburbs became the new ideal. Citified folks were now moving out to expansive green lawns where splendid isolation was the new dream for modern life.
More recently, hip urban centers with lively cafés, cool cultural centers, and app-reviewable restaurants have captured our collective imagination as the best place to live. Young adults, in particular, are flocking back to cities. Despite skyrocketing rents and increasingly tiny apartments, these are great places to experiment with identity, seek out one’s tribe, and eventually search for a life partner. And it’s all quite wonderful — until perhaps two people meet, settle down, and become parents.
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