Re: Gawkers and depersonalized answering machines
From: Martin Tracy (
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 95 19:41 CST
David Hungerford replies:

>>Even cohousing groups
>>seem fearful of strangers in their "village".  This is progress?

> ... The children play somewhat freely within this
>area and often have less direct supervision than they might if they were
>not in "cohousing."  I value this freedom for our children. But, however
>"irrational" it might be, I have to know they are safe, and strangers
>walking around our site does not feel safe! ...

Since your site has a clearly marked boundary, strangers would be strange 
indeed.  Our neighborhood has an active "neighborhood watch".  Strangers who 
sit unexplained in cars for long periods, or who walk into someone's yard, 
are asking for a visit by the local police.   We are <wary> of strangers.  
We <watch> them.  But we are not afraid of them, nor do we challenge them as 
they walk by.  Parents here let their children play in the front yard 
without a lot of supervision.  Most of the older kids have been trained in 
school in how to deal with strangers, and they feel comfortable taking safe 
refuge in anyone's house on the street.

Our street is like an open-ended tube.  If it were a cul de sac, we might 
feel differently.  If it were a gated community, we would certainly feel 

>Risk analysis can give us very, very low probabilities for stranger
>abduction/molestation--just as it does for death in commercial airline
>accidents (turboprops in midwestern ice storms notwithstanding), but when
>it's your child (or in cohousing, your neighbor's children, too),
>probabilities mean nothing because the loss of a child is not measurable,
>and even a very small (probability of harm)*(infinite value of a child)
>equals a very large cost.

Does this mean you would not take your child on a commercial airline flight?
Or send him to public school?  Or keep him from climbing trees?  

Life means unavoidable risks, and we must all learn how to deal with them. 
My fear is that children are learning what many parents believe, that the 
world is an unacceptably dangerous place, and that the best defense is to 
withdraw from it.  Whether the moat is placed around my house or around my 
neighborhood, it is still a moat.  While it might lessen my fears for a 
little while, the isolated small castle is not much proof against changing 

Martin Tracy
mtracy [at]

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