September 4th, 2013. 6 days.
An impromptu Rosh Hashanah dinner.
Phone rings. My fiance, Daniel is calling.
D: Did you know today is Rosh Hashanah?
M: Yes, shoot, I just realized. What are we doing? I have a meeting. I can try to move it. How about you?
D: Me too, but I can reschedule as well.
A little while later, I texted D that I was able to reschedule. It's on! Excitement! But wait, we have no food. We haven't prepared at all. No worries, New York City to the rescue! Delivery.com pointed me to a not so great near-by diner. But then I remembered there was a BBQ place a few avenues away. Looked on delivery.com, seamless, grubhub. But they don't deliver - or take phone orders (that's actually very un-NYC, by the way). That's OK. They have brisket (even if it is Texas style - believe it or not, there are Jews in Texas too!); it's a ten minute walk away; and I hadn't made it to they gym. I sprint over there. A long line; ugh. Ok, now very NYC. That's ok. I use the time to catch up on emails and texts. Ten minutes later, I'm out the door. Now for challah and apples. Grocery store next door is a bust. But Whole Foods is a five minute walk from there. Also a long line (ironically, 5 times more people in the 10 items or less area - again, typical of NYC). Getting late now. No worries, cab it home. Enjoy delicious pulled-together meal.
What does this have to do with urban design and planning? Everything. In an hours time, I had made a decision to cobble together a festive meal and the City made that easily possible. The proximity of these destinations, their diversity, the easy access to them, the pleasant, safe routes I took to get there - and then when pressed for time, other forms of convenient mobility were at the ready. At a time when one cannot always plan for the unexpected, when flexibility and adaptability are key, walkable places are best poised to stand up to that challenge. Today, I'm just happy that allowed us to easily ring in the new year with some challah and brisket at the last minute!