When I see this house on Pontiac Trail in Northeast Ann Arbor, I think of The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater. I read this book to my kids when they were little, and it has always stuck with me.
In the book, The main character, Mr. Plumbean, lives on a “neat street” where all the houses look the same. A seagull flies over his house and drops a can of bright orange paint on his roof, but instead of repainting his house to look like all the others on the street, Mr. Plumbean paints it to resemble his dreams. His neighbors send people to talk him into repainting his house to look like theirs, but everyone he talks to ends up painting their houses like their dreams also. In the end, all the neighbors say:
“Our street is us and we are it. Our street is where we like to be, and it looks like all our dreams.”
This book explores issues of conformity, individuality and self expression. We see how the quiet conformity of the neighborhood is left unchallenged until Mr. Plumbean’s house is splashed with orange paint. Eventually, Mr. Plumbean’s neighbors realize that being different allowed them to realize their own unique dreams.
Our choice to live with quiet conformity or to show our colors through self expression and individuality is up to yusou. Thankfully, we have that freedom. Either way, our home is a place where we live our dreams and our homes are an expression of who we are.
What is your preference? Do you like the consistency of a planned community with specific guidelines for house colors and materials or do you prefer a neighborhood where you can do some urban gardening in your front yard and let your creativity out on the sidewalk?