I have been thinking a lot about the design of a neighborhood and how it could be adapted to better serve both the material and spiritual needs of its inhabitants.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have no background in urban planning, urban design, or anything remotely close to the necessary fields to actually create a proposal. However, I am an inhabitant, and it is in this capacity that I share my thoughts.
My Neighborhood’s Strengths
I feel like my neighborhood is fantastic when it comes to material, emotional, and mental needs. It is criss-crossed with buses that go towards the city centre, as well as other places with a high concentration of work offices, making commuting to and from here quite easy; there is a number of grocery stores that are easily accessible and close-by; there is a significant number of coffee shops that cater to all kinds of tastes (including one that has a big play area for children 2 and up); a gorgeous community library; a great number of beautiful parks; and a number of places where we can meet people and socialise.
My Neighborhood’s Weaknesses
But when it comes to my spiritual needs, I often feel like there isn’t much. There are a couple of churches, and sometimes I have been lucky to find one open when I’m taking baby for a walk and I was able to slip in for prayers. There are some study groups that delve into religious Scripture, but there isn’t enough diversity for me to find a group I really fit in, other than the Bahá’í study groups I am already a part of.
I Wish Upon a Star…
I was reminded of this lack at the announcement of the unveiling, held in mid-June 2017 on the beautiful island of Vanuatu, of a House of Worship which, although built by the Bahá’ís, is meant to welcome everyone. The news articles and their accompanying pictures struck a chord of deep longing in me. I found myself wishing that, in the middle of one of the beautiful green spaces here, something like this existed: the opening of a central location, a beautiful yet simple, quiet place, open for long hours, where I could go however many times a week—or even a day!—that I felt compelled to go. While I’m quite grateful that, at the very least, there are beautiful, quiet parks and well-kept, inspiring churches, there is something about the graceful design of a House of Worship that thrills me to my very core.
Most importantly, I wish I had a place like this to regularly take my baby to. Because while I do pray with her regularly and take her to various services and study group meetings, there is something about the quiet serenity of a House of Worship that I wish I could expose her to. This space has had such an effect on me every time I was able to enter it, that I can’t help but wish I could expose my baby’s tender heart to it at the earliest time possible.
1 thought on “What Vanuatu Structure I Wish My Neighborhood Would Build”
I agree that there is a lack of spiritual ‘venues’ in neighborhoods and although a House of Worship would be ideal, I’m wondering how we can create pockets of spiritual ‘venues’ where we can at least have some degree of comfort. It’s definitely not the same thing but unless a house of worship is built close to us, what’s a good compromise in creating that effect of gathering like-minded people to share and support and strengthen the bonds of community?