Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dunwoody Diversity

Let's be honest here, Dunwoody cannot really be characterized as a champion of diversity. Not before cityhood, and certainly not since--just look at the demographic makeup of the city council. Or city administration. Or the police force. Or...

So when folks in Dunwoody talk about diversity, they're talking age diversity--they're talking old farts. Specifically themselves. Actually, they're talking about themselves in the future tense, denial being what it is and all. And these discussions usually boil down to "Assisted Living" facilities.

One view of these is that they are a deceitful way to introduce high density into a suburban setting. And we all know what high density means. Bad Things[tm].

Another view, that of the aging Dunwoodian who did not adequately prepare for retirement at St. Simons, is they are wonderful things allowing life long Dunwoodians (approximately 3.2% of the current population) to remain Dunwoodians until their timely demise. They tout the wonderful addition old farts make to the community. After all, were it not for the blue hairs, who would attend council and zoning meetings? And who would give us those fifteen minutes of quiet time in queue at the post office drop off? These folks not only keep Wednesday grocery shopping cheap, they often fill the audience at local plays, and offer many opportunities for high schools students to pad resume's with "community service" activities. It's like having little self-storage facilities chock full of grandparents.

So what about the non-demented elderly? Has anybody bothered to ask them? You know who they are: the ones who can choose where to live rather than those moved close to a guilt-ridden child who "needs them nearby to take care of them" (translate: wheel 'em out on holidays so the kids have quality time with gramps which is probably about all the quality time gramps can handle).

Probably not, because anyone who has lived in the 'burbs for any length of time comes to understand this universal truth: suburbs are places dedicated to the worship of children. Every old fart out there knows this and most will gladly share the insight.

This is the way it should be, which is convenient since it's the way it is. And just because suburbs are great places to raise kids doesn't make them ideal for your golden years. Au contraire.

After all, who, who doesn't already have to, wants to put up with soccer moms? Nobody, especially not old farts. Not when they clog streets in their SUVs schlepping the buggers to school. Not when they're at "Ladies Night Out" fawning over some local bartender's exaggerated British accent, tempting him with cleavage that probably violates a city ordinance. And certainly not when they drag their little demons out to restaurants way past their bedtimes when all you want to do is enjoy one of the few nice evenings out left in your allotment.

Then there is the incessant public whining about schools--like they really matter. And the taxes fer crissakes. Why would anyone on a fixed income want to pay the outrageous taxes these incredibly dysfunctional schools demand? And we won't even discuss what having schools littering the city does to concealed carry. Then we have laws and ordinances designed to protect children from themselves and even the remote possibility of exposure to anything deemed "mature". The kind of things that keep old farts' memories alive.

Why would any adult without school age children put up with all this? The answer is: they wouldn't. At least if they can afford not to.

So do we, as a city, want to create public policy that expands this "age diversity" or should we stay true to the mission, the reality of suburban living? Truth be told, what we really want is enough old fart warehousing to support the needs of a demographic that started a family late and now finds itself wedged between raising children and "caring" for the elders. We have enough of that already.