Recently, I realized something about my neighborhood. Within one mile from my house, I can find 2 chain grocers, plus Trader Joe’s and Sprouts, Costco, 3 different frozen yogurt places, umpteen restraurants, Bed Bath and Beyond, Barnes & Noble, World Market, Urban Home and a gas station.
In other words, if I don’t want to, I never need to go more than one mile. Ever.
I can feed, fuel and furnish my life in a one-mile radius.
The newest addition to my neighborhood? Cinepolis, a luxury movie theater that offers, for a mere $20 a ticket, a restaurant, full bar, and leather recliners to guests. There’s even a little tray by your recliner to keep your food for the movie.
It’s fancy, to be sure. And it sends a message to teenagers.
This is not for you.
You can’t drink at the bar, you can’t really afford these tickets, this space was not designed for you to hang out. So maybe you can just go chill in your basement.
Oh wait. We don’t have basements in L.A.
Well, just stay where you can’t been seen or heard please.
Why yes, that sound you just heard was me pulling out my soapbox.
We, as a community, have some degree of responsibility to raise our young people. Not just the pint-sized cute ones. The tall, lanky, sometimes surly, hormonal ones too. The ones who walk through this world, not unlike an insect with their antennae waving, searching for someone who likes them. Really likes them. For them.
That doesn’t just happen through relationships; it happens through the systems and structures where people young and old share space and learn how to be with each other.
Yes, there have always been spaces in a town that were more kid-friendly or teen-friendly, while others catered to adults. But the movies have been a place where people of all ages come. We don’t all see the same shows, but we do converge in our comings and goings.
It’s one thing to create age-targeted spaces like a park or a bar. It something different when you start with what has been an all-age opportunity and clearly take it away from young people.
When I have so much located with in a mile, I say, “Isn’t that convenient?” When all my social activities are available to me without kids or teens present, “Isn’t that convenient?” is not an attitude I’m comfortable with.