(Host) Commentator Rich Nadworny is an expert on new media and digital
marketing, who loves taking vacations – if only to realize that there
really is no place like home.
(Nadworny) The in-laws from Sweden
visited again this summer but this time, they decided they didn’t want
to stay in Vermont. Instead, they decided to fulfill a common desire of
visitors to the US and see California.
Let’s face it; California
has a powerful pull for non-US citizens. They constantly see LA and
Hollywood in movies and TV and they read about it in books – it’s had
the same kind of pull on US citizens since they found gold at Sutter’s
Mill more than 160 years ago.
So off we went, the Swedish and
Vermont crew for an adventure down the coast, starting in San Francisco
and ending in LA. Rather than exploring the amazing nature in that
state, the Swedes wanted to see the cities. And the lasting impression
we all came away with was: How can anyone live there with all of that
traffic? Especially in and around LA the traffic jams were incredible
even on normal days. In the worst stretch, it took us 30 minutes to
travel the first mile and a half to the airport. We finally traveled the
6 miles in an hour. I could’ve run there faster, although pulling my
bag behind me might have slowed me down somewhat.
We did things
like tour Universal Studios Hollywood where we were among the 29,000
people who visited that day. I always get a kick out of telling my kids
when you can fit almost all of Burlington into one place, like Fenway
Park . At it’s best Universal had some of the most fun rides I’d ever
been on. At its worst we had to wait 65 minutes in line for one ride
that lasted only 5 minutes.
When we got back to Vermont , we
breathed a collective sigh of relief. The Swedes did the same when they
got back to Stockholm. We both live in places that have a human scale:
the size of our surroundings is a good fit for the number of people
here. While we promote responsible growth here in Vermont, we like the
fact that we have space, that there are not many crowds, and that the
traffic jams in our most populated areas are a drop in the bucket
compared to other places.
It shows that we, like the Swedes,
place a premium on good, smart planning. And while we like to complain
about needless regulation and environmental planning, both result in a
much more livable, enjoyable and human space.
What struck most
of us was the utter challenge for changing some of the dirtiest, most
crowded, and poorest areas we saw. It seemed impossible at first glance,
without razing the whole place. It’s not hard to imagine the people
living there being trapped in the hard grip of hopelessness.
is beautiful, as E.F. Schumacher once wrote. And while there are
tradeoffs in living in a small place like Vermont, the humanness of
scale is something worth far more than all the money in Hollywood.