It was as a kid during family visits to Germany that I first became interested in cities. Walking on cobblestones, sitting in beer gardens, visiting outdoor markets... and eating ice cream. Maybe I would like driving more if I could better eat in a car.
I grew up in Appalachia. Freeways had been built to access our remote community, but economic development had not followed despite the raw natural beauty of the region. I learned very early about the importance of local context.
As a transportation planner in east-coast cities, traffic congestion featured prominently in shaping real estate and transportation decisions. Either traffic was characterized as part of the Dark Side or as part of the Light. I was interested in getting behind the Star Wars metaphors, leading me back to do my Ph.D. in urban planning.
For me, metropolitan areas are nodes of opportunity. I am now part of the Greater Toronto Area for several important reasons. For one, we love watching our kids grow up with their extended family. A large metro region is also important to us as a dual-income family and it means lots of potential opportunities for everybody. Beyond work, we are active with our kids who play soccer and hockey, swim, dance, and play piano. And yes, while we don't visit many cobblestone streets and the beer gardens want to eat up too much time, we enjoy local outdoor markets... and ice cream.