I’m on the first page of The Space Between: A Christian Engagement with the Built Environment, and was struck by this sentence:
Think about how you got from the last place you were to where you are now. Was the experience of getting from there to here a meaningful part of your day, or was it a meaningless necessity to get you from point A to point B? …Did you have a few realistic options [as to how to get there]? Or was it feasible to travel only by car? (emphasis mine)
I read that first page in a Japanese restaurant in a strip mall on exactly the sort of road that you would expect a strip mall to be found on. Not meaningful, not walkable.
But what I immediately thought of was the walk the girls and I took yesterday after I picked up CJ, our kindergartener, from school. We don’t live close enough to walk to school; not yet, anyway. But sometimes I like to pretend, and I’ll park a few blocks away from school and walk the rest of the way in like a local.
This particular day was beautiful, with a brilliant blue sky and bright sunshine, and was far warmer than any January day in Michigan has any right to be. The family we followed across the crosswalk ended up being one of CJ’s friends from school and her little brothers, which may have just been the highlight of CJ’s day. I’m pretty sure I heard afterwards, “It is NOT FAIR that Tiffany gets to walk to school every single day!”
Next to where we parked, the girls found a half-frozen puddle. You know the kind, with the thin sheet of ice resting on the top, and little tiny holes in the ice so that when you push the ice down the water squirts up through the holes. Pint-size paradise.
We’ve forgotten that “getting there” had the capacity for meaning. Did I ever know that? We’ve lost anything beyond pure utility in the way we get around. The fun little moments of our walk this morning aren’t big things or fancy ideas, they don’t come up in discussions of transportation economics or efficiency. They’re just real. They’re fun. And ultimately, they’re why we even bother to talk about things like livability and walkability at all.
So this week, sometime, would you consider parking a few blocks away, and see what you discover? I’d love to hear what you experience, if you do.
I’d promised to publish Part II of To Market, to Market today. I am soooo optimistic. The post is coming. But given that between midnight and 6am I was up four times with two children… it’s not coming today. My apologies, and thank you for grace.