Grate places and elven safety – the missing Claus from our book

17th December 2018
Grate places and elven safety – the missing Claus from our book

We’ve sent our “10 Essays to Shape Future Places” book far and wide since it’s launch and love hearing what you think of it. Today, however, we received a particularly Santa-mental response to our #shapingfutureplaces tome…

Dear Stride Treglown,

I thought Christmas had come early when I received a copy of your wonderful little book about Shaping Future Places, which I read whilst flying the sleigh at the weekend. Rudolph, Blitzen and the gang were doing stunt rolls at the time, and so a lot of it went over and under and to either side of my head. But when I retrieved my glasses, I loved its message of togetherness and caring about the people who, like me, actually use the places we make and the buildings we construct.

While I am just one of many such users, I come at it from a unique, lofty, reindeer-powered point of view. Riding (more sedately!) through the snow-laden clouds, gazing down at villages, towns and cities below, I’m often struck by the sheer awesomeness of humankind’s ingenuity in building shelter to keep us all safe, healthy, and in good spirits.

No one can get it right all the time, though, and so I thought I’d tell you what I’ve noticed over the years.

I’ve seen ribbon developments (which I confess are my guilty pleasure) creep like frost across the winter wonderland. I feel for the people who live and work there. When every community needs a beating heart, those strung out along busy, noisy arterial roads are in a cold place indeed. But change is afoot, and the good little boys and girls who write to me every year are rejoicing.

While I’m all for making great places, I’m deeply, crisply, and evenly concerned about the decline in grate places. And as for your chimney pots! Ma Christmas teases me about the effect that mince pies have on my waistline but I’m sure that has nothing to do with a noticeable narrowing in the width of chimneys and other ventilation ducts in modern buildings.

I’m really pleased that you are looking after your builders and other little helpers better and better these days. As I always say to Ma, elven safety is vitally important.

I love to see you doing well – growing in numbers, living longer, living better – hurrah! But you sometimes forget that the balance of your host planet can be easily upset. I don’t know much but I know it’s good to see more homes decked with boughs of renewable holly and other sorts of wood, a material that is kinder to the environment.

These problems are old chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and I know there are no easy prancers, especially when Ma’s tight on gins … er … I mean, margins are tight. I always find that with a bit of elf-analysis, though, we somehow find a way.

As I race around the world this yuletide, I know that one secret ingredient will fuel all your good intentions. If you’ve ever stumbled on a perfect place where people are happy and kids play in the streets, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s what makes your tinsel sparkle and your baubles bubble, and oils the multi-dimensional wonder of this, our one and only world: magic.

I wish you cheer, goodwill and, most especially, a magical 2019!

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