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Carla Saulter's Posts

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Urban family values

The sane person’s guide to bringing kids on public transit

Kids on the bus can be fun for everyone. Really.Photo: Roar PettersonRiding public transportation, as I've said before, is good for kids. And the presence of children on transit can enrich the experience for all riders. (Settle down, people! I said can.) So it's unfortunate that the reality of taking little ones on buses and trains often proves so challenging -- both for the folks bringing them and for those along for the ride. Parents complain about the hassle. There's the rushing and waiting in all kinds of weather. There's the occasional exposure to PG-13 language and behavior. And then …

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Urban family values

Seven ways to live in a small space with kids and not go crazy

Whee! Living small is fun!Photo: Anna MSo you want to raise your family in a city but can't afford much square footage? Never fear. Despite the challenges, it's possible to live in a small space -- with kids -- without sacrificing your sanity. First, let's define small, since our idea of an acceptable amount of space has changed dramatically in the past several decades. In 1950, the average American home was 983 square feet, and the average household size was 3.54 people. Today's "average" home is close to 2,500 square feet, even while average household size has decreased to 2.67 …

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Urban family values

Family values for population hawks: adopting a foster child

Photo: jrodmanjrLast month, Lisa Hymas posted a list of eight things all of us can do about population. It was a great roundup (my favorite was No. 4), but I'd like to add an item: If you really want to be a parent -- that is, if you'd like to help guide and shape and unconditionally love another human being, and you're OK with sleepless nights, no time for novels, and very little alone time with your partner -- consider adopting. I have nothing but respect for my GINK brothers and sisters. I think it's important to say (out lout …

Read more: Cities, Family, Population

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Urban family values

‘Mom, can we get the kind of car that we keep at our house?’

But everybody else does it!Photo: Mario KlingemannOn a recent, rather brisk, walk to church, my 3-year-old daughter, Rosa, asked, "Mom, can we get the kind of car that we keep at our house?" As opposed, that is, to the kind we use for a few hours and then return. I wasn't especially surprised by the question. I've been expecting it since the day she was born (well, maybe the day after she was born, which was also the day she took her first bus ride). And over the last six months, it has become apparent to her that most people …

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Urban family values

The soul of a city is in its people

I want my kids to grow up surrounded by all kinds of people.Photo: Carla Saulter"We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now."  -- Martin Luther King, Jr. My favorite holiday, hands down, is Martin Luther King Day. This is partly because I share a birthday with Dr. King and therefore like to think of the celebration (and even Stevie Wonder's famous MLK Day song) as sort of mine, too. It's partly because it's one of the few holidays that isn't promoted as an occasion to buy stuff or celebrate a particular association. But …

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Urban family values

Living in a small space can sometimes cramp your green style

Raising a family in a small space can pose some sustainability challenges.Photo: The Shopping SherpaUntil very recently, my family of four lived in a two-bedroom, one-bath condo in a neighborhood a couple of miles outside of downtown Seattle. (We moved in August -- five blocks from the condo in question -- for reasons unrelated to the topic of this column.) The place, though not small by any global measure, would certainly be considered cramped by current American standards. (I like to think of it as smallish.) Our family also does not own a car. Living in a small home without …

Read more: Cities, Living

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Urban family values

Want a safe place to raise kids? Look to the cities

Photo: Wyoming_JackrabbitCities have a bad reputation with parents, for a lot of reasons. One of the biggest: crime. Ask the average suburban parents why they've chosen to raise their family far away from the urban core, and chances are good the topic will come up early in the conversation. Cities might be enriching and green and beneficial for kids in all kinds of ways. But what most parents want to know is, are they safe? Last week, I chatted with Lenore Skenazy, author of Free Range Kids, about this very topic. You remember Lenore. She's the mom who was crucified …

Read more: Cities

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Urban Family Values

Family-friendly Detroit. Yes, you heard that right

"The Spirit of Detroit" is still strong.Photo: Adam EdwardsMy husband, Adam, and I have many traits in common: our biracial heritage; left-handedness; a penchant for public transportation; and, perhaps most significantly, a deep, irrational (OK, borderline scary) passion for our hometowns. As I've mentioned, my city of origin is Seattle. His is Detroit. I know what's coming, believe me. As a Motown booster by marriage, I've heard every joke and disparaging remark there is to hear about Detroit, frequently from people who've never set foot in the city. The remarks don't accomplish much, since, like everyone else who hasn't been …

Read more: Cities

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Urban Family Values

Driving a car doesn't mean being in control

Snowstorms in Seattle, like this one in 2008, highlight how limiting car dependence can be.Photo: John MundyMany people have asked me how I manage with a family and no car. Riding the bus with kids for day-to-day travel is one thing, but what do I do when there's an emergency or opportunity and I need to get somewhere right away? When I mention the plethora of options I have available to me -- cabbing, car sharing, walking, cycling (well, theoretically, anyway), ambulance -- in the event I have an immediate need and the bus is not available or practical, people …

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Urban Family Values

Moving to the suburbs for your kids? Think again

Kids don't need a white picket fence to have fun.Photo: Sarah Goodyear We cannot separate our children from the ills that affect everyone, however hard we try. -- Erica Jong, "The Madness of Modern Motherhood," in the Wall Street Journal Most environmentally aware parents would say that we'd like to keep the planet in good shape for our kids. We'd like them to have clean air to breathe, healthy sources of food and water, and the good fortune to coexist with a variety of species of plants and animals. We'd also probably prefer that they not be drowned by rising …

Read more: Cities