I am now officially a resident of downtown Charleston and it rocks. It as though I am rediscovering the town and falling even further in love with it. The people, the buildings, the possibilities... all so inviting and interesting. One of the reasons that living downtown is so great is that the city is actually designed in a way that you can get almost everything you need without having a car. For example, today, I managed to get prescriptions, develop pictures, check out a book, and rent a cat trap (long story) all within a few city blocks from my house. Long before suburbs, highways, and wal-marts, most people lived in densely packed cities, close to where they worked, and shopped at the local businesses in their neighborhoods. These days, this kind of development has been re popularized under the theories of smart growth and new urbanism, although nothing compares to the original. (Its hard to implement these new concepts in a time and space where people are used to their cars and being able to buy everything they need in one box store for really cheap). Yet I have hope that development will continue on its journey to becoming more community oriented, walk-able, bike-able, and ecologically sound. As for cities like Charleston that have a well established downtown, I encourage people to get out of their cars, meet their neighbors, head to the farmers market, and support the local economy. Otherwise, our cities will continue to become alienated by the large monoculture that is corporate America, where you can step off a plane, drive a rental car past the locals, get dinner at a chain restaurant inside a chain hotel, and forget what city you are in.