Times are changing. Demographers tell us that younger set is shirking automobile ownership and moving closer into American cities.
I’m proud to say that one of my former Hampton University architecture students, Donald Roman, is among them. He and his wife, Fabiloa, recently chose a condo in Brooklyn over the now-faded suburban dream. And, the New York Times just celebrated their accomplishment with a feature story.
If I recall correctly, Donald was never a fan of the car.
I’m happy to say that the heavy urban design emphasis of our architecture degree program served to strengthen his understanding of the benefits of population density and walkable city design.
I’m immensely proud that Donald and Fabiloa, who met in an Upward Bound program when they were in high school, planned well and chose carefully. They overcame tremendous odds to become homeowners under the age of 30. And, they had the good sense to recognize that living in a densely settled area means shorter commutes and quick access to a huge range of services.
During his time at Hampton University, Donald travelled with me to Tanzania on the 2005 Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad program I conducted. It was a true joy to have Donald among the 23 American students and 65 Tanzanian students on the program. He was immensely popular with the entire group and his soft-spoken but optimistic spirit uplifted our group every day.
Donald also made a big difference in my life when he introduced me to Malcolm Gladwell. He even handed me a copy of The Tipping Point as we were leaving Sunset Beach on our last day in East Africa.
The Tipping Point is about “how little things can make a big difference.” Interestingly, the NYT feature ends with a quote from Fabi about little things that make a big difference in one’s quality of life (like a dishwasher — and I totally agree!!!).
Thanks, Donald, for sharing with me your reflections on Gladwell’s ideas when we were beginning our trek home. Your insights got me interested enough to invest time in cracking the cover, and I had almost finished reading the book by the time my plane landed in Norfolk.
Since then, I’ve read each of Gladwell’s new releases cover to cover. A new one, about David and Goliath, just hit the shelves and beacons me to read.
There are interesting TED talks by Gladwell on David and Goliath and “choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce” to help get you started if you haven’t yet cracked the mystic of Gladwell’s storytelling ability… or if you just want to have some fun learning about the break through discovery of vegetable chunks.