Quality of Place-this is a catch phrase being heard increasingly in urban planning. Downtown, civic engagement, and community may appear to have little to do with historic buildings, cultural traditions, and green spaces for recreation-all part of what makes up a quality of life in our communities…but they are wonderfully interdependent.
Our historic downtowns were built on a human scale, with buildings usually less than three stories tall. Classically themed building features, such as columns and pediments dignify our public life…where Main Street can be thought of as the “living room” of our community. Traditional downtowns clustered their post offices, libraries, banks, and shops within easy distance of each other. We now see more small businesses taking over these old storefronts in the Saco Bay area with an emphasis on buying local.
These buildings, visually pleasing and constructed with quality materials, are best viewed from the vantage point and speed of walking. Incidentally, a lifestyle that encourages walking and movement is increasingly important in counteracting chronic diseases of a sedentary, American “car culture.” Old ways of organizing our daily lives are making new sense for a lot of people.
A cultural tradition of honoring service to our country was almost lost last year. The Heart of Biddeford, along with many helping hands organized our annual Memorial and Veterans Day Parades in Saco and Biddeford. These events aren’t commercial-their value lies in the feelings of our veterans and their families for being honored on our Main Streets, and with the lessons the parades teach young people about our people and history. These traditions create an experience of community and place.
When one tires of the busyness of town, we are fortunate to have beaches, parks, and woods for rest and recreation. Mechanics Park, with its river view, Pepperell Park with its colonial history, and Clifford Park’s 140 acres of woods in the middle of Biddeford are a few of the many green spaces which our progenitors were wise to preserve.
We are fortunate to have these elements of a quality lifestyle: beautiful, walkable downtowns; restful, natural landscapes; and meaningful cultural traditions. What might be missing is simply…you. Giving of your time and skill to really engage with these elements of the Saco Bay gives you an even more rewarding experience of our communities. Check in with Saco Bay Center for Civic Engagement if you would like ideas on where to start.
Saco Bay, with its rich and varied natural and constructed environments, offers a desirable community in which to live.
Quality of Place Project aims to create and sustain quality of life in our communities by supporting our cultural and historic assets, such as landscapes, buildings, and institutions. We encourage community building that involves interaction with these assets.
Get involved with this project today!