Scott from Lakeside, and the carfree movement compared to the civil rights movement
I met a guy walking across the cloverleaf near SDSU. Only rarely do I see people doing this, and they usually look like they could be students. The last I saw was an Asian woman. This is about Scott and our meeting. I also pasted in a bit I wrote today about realizing the carfree vision.
I met Scott just before re-crossing that infamous bridge. Here's a photo. I'd been up to Lake Murray, and by Windmill Farms (the nice food store with bulk bins), and was lugging a honeydew and cantaloupe, among other things, in a green nylon mesh sack like Santa Claus. I wore my florescent yellow vest, orange shorts, sweat-stained Tilley t-4 hat, and polarizing sun-glasses.
Scott was walking smoothly, carrying nothing but his clothes, wearing a polo-shirt faded where it hung from his shoulders, ball cap, and jeans. His right foot turned in the air as it left the ground, almost flapping. His palms would face behind him as they swung alternately behind his back. His face was ruddy, sort of rosacea-like on his cheeks.
He looked my way towards a fig tree I'd finished examining. Eventually I ran to catch up to him.
He may be taller than me; he is very lean and long-limbed; he may be between 30 and 40.
On the weekends, for fun, he walks from Lakeside to a store near Windmill Farms, where he gets a drink. I asked him questions as we walked across the various parts of the cloverleaf, and we would distract each other, but still we did not get run over.
So that is at least 12 miles covered between 830 and 1230—at least 3 miles/hour for four hours. And he walks back. And he'll do it tomorrow too.
As we tried to hear each other above the noise of the cars, I asked him why he walked across this bridge. It had never occurred to him to think it a miserable place: "There's a bridge here," he said, "I like to cross."
He started walking when in high school he decided he'd rather walk than take the bus. He does have a car which he uses to get food and to get to his job as a janitor at a middle school three miles from his home. He mentioned that he used to drive up to Orange County sometimes.
Besides walking, he reads books. He said he didn't have other projects besides these. Asked to recommend a book, he said, "the Bible." Asked what version, "King James." Since I'm sitting in on "the Bible as literature" this semester, we had a bit to talk about.
He asked me if I believed that all the answers to men's problems can be found there. After hesitating, I said no, that I believed something closer to what the Mormons believe: "He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. . . . If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." Scott said you could tell the Book of Mormon was made up, though.
He'd like to be a lineman for PG&E, because they are paid well.
In any event, around 1245 on Saturday, Sunday, or both, if you hang out near the turtle pond at Scripps Cottage, you may see him swoop in, linger for a minute or two, and stride back up the hill, heading to Lakeside.
1447 I wrote a response on one of the facebook groups... (the UW facebook group in particular. Someone found my page there and started the carfree cities group at UW. He asked what more he might be able to do to help the cause.)
Depending on how gung-ho you are, you may be able to get funding and related support from carfreecity.us (Gus and David) to have a table on the idea at fairs or other places.
This movement has the potential to be something huge and great, like the civil rights movement... but I don't know who the dynamic leaders will be and when the critical mass/momentum will be reached.
When people choose not to build their communities around the car, this will signal a huge philosophical shift which will lead to and be related to much other wonderful human-centered, best-use-of-technology-questioning progress...
I don't know the best way for others to continue furthering this cause while also taking the time to build and maintain joy in life.
My current strategy is to focus on the joy, and address the carfree issues and opportunities to speak out about it when they come up in the course of my work in literature and facilitation, or wherever.
Just living without a car, if you choose to, will create such opportunities too.