Home > Appreciated Quotes > Walking As An Indicator Species For Freedom

Walking As An Indicator Species For Freedom

Monday’s Quote

Walking is an indicator species for various kinds of freedom and pleasures: free time, free and alluring space, and unhindered bodies.”

~ Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

In that vein, a walkable community is an indicator of a healthy, resilient, and balanced community. If it, the community, is indeed walked. Traverse City, by most American standards, is a very walkable city. A walker’s paradise if the raw, central score at Walkscore is a good measure. We have some areas to connect, some access issues and we have some undeserved neighborhoods, but for the most part, it is a walker’s paradise.

And yet, we are still dominated by our cars; We are culturally wired for the automobile and to assume the automobile has more right to public space than people. People walking still run across the road when they have the right of way. This is cultural and will only change once we: 1) recognize that we all walk (even die-hard motorists must walk); 2) walk more (expand the idea that Americans will only walk 1/4 mile or less).

The level that people in a community feel encouraged, enjoy, have the space (time and physical) to walk are some ways that walking is an indicator species for a community. In this regard, our cultural walkscore isn’t so high. The good news? It doesn’t take much to shake it. Walking more is the first key. A pair of comfortable shoes and a destination is the only things required, and neither of them are really necessary. We can set off shoeless and directionless and still reach where we need to be.

Inspired by Solnit’s Wanderlust, which I’m only 2 chapters into, this week I’m committing to walking ALL of my in-town trips. For the most part, I operate in a 2-mile radius that is completely agreeable to this challenge, so I don’t expect any difficulties. In fact, I’m looking forward to the freedoms and pleasures Solnit’s writing clarifies so well.

I’ll keep you posted of the walking and you can expect other gems from Wanderlust in the coming weeks.

Where can you walk this week?

(Ding! Ding! to Sharon for lending the book.)

  1. Sharon Flesher
    November 15, 2010 at 9:31 am

    I’m glad you’re enjoying it! Walking really does help us slow down, see our community in greater detail, meet our neighbors, and focus our thoughts. When I first read that book years ago, I was inspired by the chapters on epic walking journeys and made a goal of celebrating my 50th birthday by walking from my front door to the tip of South America. It seemed like a great idea at the time, less so now that target birthday is only three years away.

    Great point about a community’s cultural walkscore. I’m sure you’ve also traveled to places with spontaneous evening promenades. We get a slight taste of that in the summer with Friday Night Live. I would love it if we could have a space for pedestrians to take over on a nightly basis, such as what happens in some areas of the Plateau Mont Royale in Montreal, or Vancouver’s West End.

  2. November 15, 2010 at 11:04 am

    That’s quite the trip…what, 7,000 miles? Epic indeed…

  3. aastricker
    November 15, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    Where can I walk this week? To work every day. To the store to buy a gift for a baby shower tomorrow or Wednesday. To an inservice downtown on Thursday. To another inservice at the ISD on Friday morning. Back to school Friday afternoon. To the shower on Friday. To the Farmers’ Market Saturday morning. To the commons for a hike or a jog with my son and my dog once or twice. To Dr. Jay’s office for an adjustment. To Tom’s for science experiment supplies. To Deering’s or Oleson’s for milk and other supplies . . .

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