Jan 17, 2008 :: Power to the People, Fulton Cotton Mill Lofts
For the last 10 months, I've thought about energy every single day. The magazine I'm writing at work (loosely it's a magazine; it's 200+ pages long) focuses on energy and place this year, so every day I'm deluged with statistics about how solar power has been possible since DaVinci's time and how there are people who vehemently oppose any thought that we're responsible for climate change. I've gotten an earful about peak oil and read three rather amazing books (Biomimicry, The World Without Us, and Electric Universe) that look at energy consumption and the other issues that surround it from some really diverse viewpoints. But the things that intrigue me probably the most about the discussion are all the things surrounding the American car culture.
If there's one thing living in Atlanta should do to a person it is make you ready to junk your car/truck/SUV for scrap metal. Driving here is both necessary in many respects and a form of torture so acute I'm having a minor panic attack right now imagining the drive home. Several things make it so: The Atlanta DOT's insistence that seemingly 80% of all major (i.e. unavoidable) byways be under construction at all times; the fact that everyone here drives everywhere, so even the most clever alternate route is quickly slammed full of drivers trying to do exactly what you're doing; and let's not forget the laughably poor public transportation infrastructure.
For me, the first two I can chalk up to living in a city of millions of people. I love living in the city. Therefore, I also chalk having to lock my doors at night and conversing with street people and being wary when I walk home from the neighborhood bar up to living in the city too. I also consider waiting in lines, being forced to deal with large crushes of humanity, never finding a pair of shoes I like in stock at DSW, and being 1000% ok with being able to afford only the tiniest of pieces of property, just part of the city experience. I revel in it. But the third - that woeful lack of train stops and reliable bus service one - I just don't get. You can't have one without the other and be a respectable place to live. Get with it, Atlanta. There's lots of other cities that get it right.
Anyway, this is partially why I love this walking project. I didn't need an excuse to walk where I need to go...well, I didn't think I did. Now, Blake and I make that choice 100% more than we used to. We're becoming regulars at the local eateries and coffee shops. We're seeing the city the way it was meant to be seen--slowly, from five-feet-something off the ground. And we're saving energy - and I feel like, building ours.