Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Nov 1st 2007 at 4:12pm UTC

Trick-or-Treater Index

When we lived in D.C., in a solid neighborhood in the city’s northwest quadrant, not a single kid came to our door in three years.  Last night at our house in Toronto -in a neighborhood much closer in to the city core and also much denser than where we lived in D.C. – our house was mobbed.  And the kids were virtually a mosaic of races – black, white, Asian…


Then I saw this story in today’s New York Times on a new study from the US Census Bureau:

Nearly half the nation’s children live in places where their parents
fear that neighbors may be a bad influence, and one-third or more of
black and Hispanic children are generally kept inside their homes
because their neighborhoods are considered too dangerous.  … Over all, more than one in five children are kept indoors because they live in dangerous neighborhoods, according to the survey. That proportion rises to 34 percent among blacks and 37 percent among
Hispanics surveyed.

Contemplate the long-run social and economic costs of that.

6 Responses to “Trick-or-Treater Index”

  1. Alison Kemper Says:

    This winter, look at the index of crowding on sledding hills near subway stops.

    Next summer, you can use playground utilization rates.

    Public space is the key to so much quality of life.

  2. Gary Dare Says:

    Hallowe’en in Chicago saw a pregnant mum gunned down on the south side when returning from a round of trick-or-treats with her two children (link to WLS, ABC 7 Chicago in byline). A man was also shot and wounded after he protested the egging of his car.

    Canadian repatriates from the US often cite their children among reasons for returning, say about when they reach kindergarten age (about the length of an executive transfer visa – the L).

  3. Michael Maser Says:

    Hello Richard,

    The news about increasing fear in urban neighbourhoods is not really news (nor is Canada immune from this trend, either, for sure!) but for those of us concerned about community health, the news is scarier than a blind date with Norman Bates.

    And I think you would be interested to learn about the ‘Popsicle Index’ initiative of Catherine Austin Fitts, who worked as a former high-level economist in the Bush Sr. and Clinton administrations before being chased out of your old stomping grounds on the Potomac to hole up in Tennessee.

    Catherine, the founder of Solari Inc., describes the PI in this way: “The Popsicle Index is the % of people in a community who believe that a child can leave their home, go to the nearest place to buy a Popsicle and come home alone safely. When I was a child growing up in West Philadelphia in the 1950’s, the Popsicle Index was 100%. We were a modest neighborhood, even poor by some standards. But we were rich in safety. Today, after years of federal government supported drug trafficking and subsidy and loan programs, the moms in my old neighborhood probably feel the Popsicle Index is about 0%.” (from

    [Of course, the PI would likely be interchangeable with the 'HI' or Hallowe'en Index.]

    Anyways, Catherine is now working to re-invigorate community health and increase the PI by examining how community economics can better work in service of development and health; I just met with her at a seminar in Vancouver (BC) and found her ideas to be very stimulating.

    For more information about Solari, and Catherine Austin Fitts, I recommend checking out

    - Cheers, Michael Maser
    Gibsons BC Canada (home to a pretty respectable PI and HI!)

  4. Wendy Says:

    What about Halloween as a community builder? or community reinforcer.

    Where I live in Vancouver is also a mob scene of children at Halloween. New people to the neighborhood were introducing themselves as they walked their children around. We used the night as an excuse to drop in on neighbors we hadn’t seen for a while, and who hadn’t seen our new baby.

    When we first moved here in 2002, we restored an old 1911 character craftsman house to its original look over the summer. That Halloween dozens of neighbors we hadn’t met came by with their kids, praising the work and welcoming our efforts to beautify the neighborhood (it was an early house of many that has been restored to its original splendor in the neighborhood over the past 5 years). Halloween was like a welcoming committee (or parade of families).

  5. RF Says:

    Michael – Thank you. I am going to try to get the Popsicle Index in Who’s Your City if I can beat the deadline.

  6. Michael Wells Says:

    I wonder if this is really about just urban neighborhoods? I wonder how many are suburban or smaller communities. Certainly around Portland the majority of Hispanics live in suburbs.

    We had probably 40-50 trick or treaters. My daughter said they went trick or treating with their 3 year old in their city neighborhood and the streets were packed with kids and families

    Question for Richard. Did the multi-ethnic kids reflect your neighborhood? In a different house several years ago, we used to get families from “worse” neighborhoods who drove to ours, probably to have their kids on safer streets.

    I regret the growing fearfulness in our society. Probably 30 years ago I used to bake pumpkin cookies which were very popular. Then came the “razors in apples” urban legends and after that you couldn’t give out anything but store-bought wrapped candy.