Halloween: Celebrating Neighborhoods

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Despite the plastic kitsch and manufactured costumes that have overtaken Halloween, the celebration still retains its roots as a community celebration that requires little driving in many towns and cities.

This came to me as we went trick or treating in our Northern California town on Friday night. There were droves of trick or treaters ranging in age from babes in arms to grown-ups accompanying their children. 



They walked in the warm night in excited clusters, with few cars in sight except police cruisers. No one wants to drive when going house to house meeting the neighbors on foot in the pungent candlelit fall air is what creates the real magic. 

We sat on the porch of our son's soccer coach handing out treats to scores of kids, the coach's wife grilling each kid on their costume after the coach made each one shout "Trick or Treat!"  "What are you?" "A guy with a top hat" "You should do better job next year," she laughed, as we sipped wine. "How about you two?" "Salt and Pepper," "Perfect!"  "A fairy, right?"

There were haunted garages, umm "haunted houses," constructed of stuff found laying around the house, a video image of a talking head, pumpkin carvings of the presidential candidates, and lots of candy, hopefully not containing melamine from China.

Sure Halloween produces lots of plastic and packaging, but it doesn't have to, and compared to other American holidays, it lets people get together in their community on spontaneous and creative ground, without having to drive or fly on airplanes.

In fact the economic downturn seemed to have little dampening effect on this ritual night, first observed as Celtic Ireland's Samhain.

In times like these, we need to know our neighbors and have a good time bringing our creative spirts and commonalities to the fore.    

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About the Author

    Warren Karlenzig
Warren Karlenzig, Common Current founder and president, has worked with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (lead co-author United Nations Shanghai Manual: A Guide to Sustainable Urban Development in the 21st Century, 2011); United Nations Center for Regional Development (training of mayors from 13 Asian nations on city sustainable economic development and technology); provinces of Guizhou and Guangdong, China (urban sustainability master planning and green city standards); the United States White House and Environmental Protection Agency (Eco-Industrial Park planning and Industrial Ecology primer); the nation of South Korea ("New Cities Green Metrics"); The European Union ("Green and Connected Cities Initiative"); the State of California ("Comprehensive Recycling Communities" and "Sustainable Community Plans"); major cities; and the world's largest corporations developing policy, strategy, financing and critical operational capacities for 20 years.

Present and recent clients include the Guangzhou Planning Agency; the Global Forum on Human Settlements; the Shanghai 2010 World Expo Bureau; the US Department of State; the Asian Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainability; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; the non-governmental organization Ecocity Builders; a major mixed-use real estate development corporation; an educational sustainability non-profit; and global corporations. Read more here.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Warren Karlenzig published on November 3, 2008 10:51 AM.

Tour of the "Souths": Korea and Carolina Sustainability Quests was the previous entry in this blog.

Limiting Sprawl's Economic and Resource Toll: California Law SB 375 is the next entry in this blog.

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