Community members and first responders gather at Town Square Park in St. George for the Remembering 9/11: Honoring First Responders and Their Families event Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.

Love for Our City

I first visited the city of Auckland in New Zealand in 2015. When I returned home I found myself often thinking of my time there. Walking around our beautiful downtown St. George would spark memories of that city far away. A smell would remind me of a stunning city park. Music coming from a store front would bring back memories of the music of the Moari culture. A bite of food might take me back to a meal in a pub that my family particularly enjoyed. Auckland, like St. George, is what I like to call a lovable city. Lovable cities, for me, are the ones I leave behind but cannot forget. What is it that makes a city lovable, memorable and valuable to its residents and visitors alike?

What is it that makes a city lovable, memorable and valuable to its residents and visitors alike?

I think it is a charming combination of traits.

First, most have a lively core. An area that feels welcoming and happy, filled with open and interesting shops, local cuisine, live music, cultural art, green spaces and parks. The people are welcoming to locals and outsiders alike. Visitors are made to feel like family. A general feeling persists that people who live in lovable cities feel happy they chose to call their city ‘home.’

Second, most lovable cities have a downtown that recognizes and reverences the past while also being open to the future. Many old buildings are preserved and cared for and sit alongside new, creative, innovative developments that help to keep the downtown economically viable and technologically forward thinking. Jobs are both maintained and created in a healthy downtown core.

Third, a city is a living organism. A city that refuses to allow new ideas and change is a city that falls into disrepair and economic death. Lovable downtowns are constantly adding and changing and growing in ways that compliment what is already there while looking to the future to continue a legacy of innovation and determination that will benefit generations to come.

Fourth, lovable cities are beautiful cities. Trash is kept to a minimum. Residents take pride in caring for homes, businesses, and civic spaces. Parks, playgrounds and trails are kept clean and safe. The beauty of a lovable city resides both in its structures and spaces but is also evident in the commitment of its residents to invest in continuous care.

Fifth, lovable cities are safe. Pedestrian traffic is high. Car traffic is slow and careful. People feel comfortable using various modes of transportation and are encouraged to park away from the activity hubs and enter in ways that encourage face to face human interaction. In his book, “For the Love of Cities,” Peter Kageyama reminds us of the importance of considering the value of the intangible things that make cities truly great. He advises, “Government is not responsible for legislating happiness, but smart communities make it a little more likely to happen by their policy decisions. Communities have embraced the notion of becoming more creative and innovative because they see the economic benefits of those characteristics. So, too, should enlightened cities recognize that happiness has economic benefits; happier citizens are healthier both physically and mentally, live longer, and enjoy more success at work.”

I have long held the belief that the distinctive reason why we, as humans, decided to form organized cities was to help residents to live happier, healthier, safer, more connected and joy- filled lives. Cities are lovable when they are filled with citizens and neighbors who care about the welfare of the whole. St. George has long been a lovable city, the kind of place people leave but cannot forget.

It will continue to be a lovable city long into the future if we keep our community vision and values set on building an active and optimistic ecosystem that honors the past while looking to the future.

Dannielle Larkin

A proud St George resident for the past 30+ years , a city councilwoman who enjoys cycling, art, and volunteering among many other things.