Yes, that's a kid. Children are, have been, and will continue to be, a part of life in Ward 10.
I was reading an article about Lyn-Lake ("Lyn-Lake? The New Uptown?" Not exactly breaking news, but that's another post...) and got sidetracked by a brief comment made about the area's demographics. "[Residents] tend to be highly educated, disposable income, no kids, young people," said Andrea Christenson of Colliers Turley Martin Tucker. Well, sort of. Lyn-Lake does have a lot of young people, not as many kids as in many parts of the city, and as far as disposable income, well, that's a bit more debatable, but it's safe to say that the residents in the newer, more expensive developments probably do have a fair amount of disposable income. I'm not going to argue demographics here, and I'm not taking issue with the article itself or any of the people quoted in it. What I do want to discuss is the ongoing assumption held by so many people in Minneapolis that parents are expected to live a certain lifestyle. And, to many people, that lifestyle does not seem to fit with Uptown or Lyn-Lake.
Families are supposed to live in neighborhoods like Armatage. This view holds that new or expecting parents are supposed to buy a "starter" (oh, how I hate that term) home in a neighborhood like Kenny or Armatage, or, if they can afford it, somewhere like Linden Hills. While they're at it they might as well buy themselves a minivan, because real parents don't drive beat up old smaller cars, let alone ride the bus. They can buy a bike with a baby seat or one of those trailers for socially-acceptable family bike rides around Lake Harriet.
Parents don't go to bars or restaurants. According to the Lyn-Lake Small Area Plan's Market Study, "this general area of Minneapolis, including Uptown and Lyn-Lake, has long been popular among a younger generation due to its range of restaurants and bars, and proximity to downtown employment." (p.20-21) I'm sure that's true. That's part of the reason I like Uptown and Lyn-Lake. And, to be fair, I still count in the study's "younger generation," since I am under 35. Again, not quibbling with the idea that bars and restaurants appeal to young people (they appeal to all people), but in general there is an assumption that families don't want to live in bustling city neighborhoods with bars on the corners. Admittedly I have less time or money to visit restaurants or bars, but that doesn't mean I don't want them nearby. As most parents can attest, delivery or take-out is a fabulous thing.
Families only want to live in single family homes. This is probably true for many families. But, despite the assumption otherwise, not all kids grow up in freestanding, single family homes. There's nothing wrong with apartment living for families, and maybe in Uptown and Lyn-Lake we should be encouraging that option for those families that want to live in the neighborhood but can't afford to buy a house. I'm not immune to the appeal of home ownership; we're hoping to buy a place (ideally a duplex or maybe a triplex), too, but I'd take longterm renting in Uptown or Lyn-Lake any day over a house in Armatage. It's just not for me. Kids can and do live in more urban neighborhoods, so let's stop assuming that everyone wants to move to quiet, pleasant, but boring neighborhoods (or worse, move out to the 'burbs).
Families don't need to have 2,000 square feet of living space. I admit it; if I could afford one of the grand old homes in the neighborhood I'd be happy to live there. They are big and beautiful and filled with history and original woodwork. I don't mind having space to spread out. I doubt we'll be able to afford one of those houses, though, and I have no problem with living with a smaller floor plan.
I like city living. I don't want to have to drive places. I want to be able to walk to the grocery store, the library, retail stores, the doctor, parks, and other destinations. When I can't walk I want to be able to take the bus (or, ideally, light rail!). I want safe streets, but don't mind a little noise at night, and don't care about traffic. I want my son to grow up enjoying urban life, and when he's older, being able to easily walk, bike, or take the bus places on his own, too. Both Uptown and Lyn-Lake are great places to raise kids, and instead of reading article after article making it sound like everyone in the neighborhood is 25, rolling in money, and spending every waking minute at the bars I wish we could start fully embracing the various neighborhoods of Ward 10 as places where people of ALL ages can find a home. Even if that home involves shared walls or no car, let alone minivan.