I get off around 6:00 or 6:30 and I usually don’t get home until 7:30 or later. My wife is the same way. At that point, neither of us really feel like cooking, and the closest place to buy vegetables is several blocks away. Honestly, at that time of night, I’m not sure where the closest place to buy vegetables is. What often happens is that we either eat at a Muslim noodle shop over and over again, eat instant noodles or eat McDonald’s. These are the kinds of food that don’t make s sick from the oil that is used. When we do buy vegetables and cook for ourselves, sometimes the veggies, particularly the cucumber has this horrible chemical taste to it. On the south side of the city, we’ve learned about one organic foods CSA program. The farmer emails on Monday with this week’s selection, drives down from the north side of the city and delivers, Tuesday during the day for CBD and most ex-pats, Wednesday during the day for the rest of the city. We’d like to use it, but the problem is, you need to pay cash on delivery, and we’re not home during the day. I thought about asking my neighbors. My wife said not to do it because there is money involved and it will be awkward. Add to that, that in the 8 months I’ve lived in this apartment I’ve never said a word to any of my neighbors in the apartment complex. Even my roommates don’t complain to me if I’m too loud skyping home, they tell the police. But its not just that I’m a foreigner. Repeatedly my former students who were born outside Beijing have lamented that they have gone years without talking to their neighbors, the bonds they found in the country to not apply in the city. Similarly Li Zhang in her work on Kunming suburbs in southwest China has also documented that Chinese do not interact with their neighbors for lack of trust, they don’t know where they got the money to buy their apartment.
This is why boundaries + crossings is starting on a new project that looks at the challenges and opportunities for creating new cities, both to offer ideas for those stuck in the rut of eating junk food after work and as a means of trying to foster bonds with those living closest to you. Its hard to create a neighborhood if you don’t talk to anyone that lives around you.
What we are doing, is looking for people to tell their stories, their struggles and their victories of how they are able to make their lives and the lives of those around them healthier. We believe that there are people that want more than spending hours on a bus or subway, eating instant noodles at night. That is why we want to look at not only how we can create more opportunities for eating healthy tasty local food, but also looking at how we can travel less, work close to home, spend more time in one’s community playing with your children and laughing with your neighbors. If you’re interested, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.