Friday, June 1

Low Impact Week

In the manner of time in my life, Low Impact Week snuck up on me. I guess that's appropriate in a way, it keeps me from making this week easier by doing extra work last week to prepare for it.

I have been meaning to ride the bus to work from my local park-n-ride, I have the coupons and everything. And for the last week my cat has been waking me up about 5. So this morning I grabbed the opportunity and headed out of the house with a full lunch bag and no delays to check the schedule. My bus left about 5 minutes after I got to the plaza, I had a lovely 20 minute ride through farms and great vistas (and I got to enjoy them since I wasn't driving), and then a 30 min. walk. All kinds of things I've been wanting more of in my life.

I even got to chat with a friend who was on her way to work.

I went to a commuter college for my bachelors and spent those years riding the bus and walking a lot. There's a part of me that knows *most* of the time, the weather's going to be fine. The walking part isn't too far. If I need more food than I have, I can find it. But in spite of all kinds of really positive, self-sufficient experiences with bus-aided mobility, when I get away from it for a while, shadows creep in. I think, "I can't take the bus today... it might rain/snow/be too hot." And yet I've taken the bus in those conditions, and learned that the really uncomfortable times are out at the margins.

There is a pocket of my poverty consciousness that gets triggered when I ride the bus. I did it because I was broke so much of the time, and now when I get on, I often feel broke in spite of the richness in my life.

I also feel a kind of defensiveness. I feel like people I know would only take the bus if they didn't have gas money, a friend to ride with, or if their cars were in the shop. So the joy in chatting with my friend today was that none of those questions came up. It seemed completely normal that I was walking to work. I would like more of those experiences.

And then there's the quote that was in my inbox when I fired up my computer:

Business opportunities are like buses, there's always another one coming.
-- Richard Branson (Virgin Founder)
I love that Richard Branson, who in many ways represents a "cool" I find appealing, knows about buses, and knows about them with a familiarity that gives him a point of grounding when it comes to the business game. It certainly challenges my poverty trigger.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is sponsoring their 2nd Annual Dump the Pump day on June 21. It's an invitation to pick a day to go without using gas (or diesel); but also a day to try public transportation. Look for events near you.


Ethan said...

Congrats on taking the bus! I think that part of the problem with mass transit is, as you say, perception. I, too, feel richer riding the bus. As long as you can get a seat (which is not always possible at rush hour), it is like having your own chauffeur! Keep riding!

Jon said...

This is a wonderful post. Thank you. I have family that live in the Chicago outskirts and when we drive out to see them from our home in Michigan I find myself wishing we had commuter train lines in place like those I see in the Chicago area. Which I suspect would generate the same emotional and emotive response as a bus.

Side note: for our family vacation this year we are taking the train to Glacier National Park rather then driving. For the same reasons you point out in your post... time to look out the window, talk with family and other passengers, etc.

I can't wait !


monkey said...

bus riding is fine enough... but i do admit...
if i had a car... muahahhahahaaaaa....

but mostly on the late nights, cause dammit man the only all night busses are colfax and mississippi (and north broadway, but not the south line)

if only the others ran past 9!
sigh... no bus for the late owls who live south of the city... so sad...

riding in the freakish cold isnt so bad actually :)
it was about -18 that day i went up to your house to help mit der packin :)
buses dem things is heated on the inside :-D YAY!!!!!!!
just remember to keep moving while you wait in between busses :)

i think rain/hail mix would be the one i'd cave in on.

you can do it captain :)

dont fall asleep between your destinations :-D
i found where the end of some of teh north south lines are that way... not much way to get back when that happens :)

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NotSoBigLiving is the story of a woman inspired by Sarah Susanka, Bill McKibben, Airstreams, Tumbleweed houses, Mennonites, Jimmy Carter, hippies, survivalists, Anasazi, Pema Chodron and Joko Beck, Scott Peck, Buckminster Fuller, and Al Gore to see what she can do to reduce her carbon footprint in her mid-80's suburban townhome. Strategies include roommates, alternative travel, organic eating, planting a victory garden, mindfulness, and a belly full of laughter.