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Strong Communities: It’s More Than Just A Commute

Mobility is the ability to move or be moved freely and easily. Freely and easily (maybe even safely). Let’s think about that for a minute.

I came across this post tonight as I was scrolling through Twitter. It almost got buried in the mess of all the back and forth on leadership and pandemics and medical research and expertise. (Wow, more on leadership coming soon I think.). Isn’t it great?

Mobility is more than just “time spent” getting from A to B. It has sensory, emotional, and social qualities we seldom consider or discuss.

@Modacity

It hit me. It came right off the screen and stabbed me in the soul, really. For the past few years, I have been tagging along on all sorts of City of Edmond things: City Council, Planning Commission, Central Edmond Urban Board, and any other meeting they will let me attend. I sit on the Edmond Bicycle Committee and, probably to the annoyance of most there, really push and prod at our value as a committee about bicycle and not a more broad approach to things like mobility, alternative transportation… bigger picture ideas that would actually impact our community.

For years, I have watched my cousin succeed in City Planning all over the country and I guess I sorta caught the bug a bit. I have this strange and unshakable attraction to Edmond and what it can become. A strong town. A strong “urban” community. I have said (and still believe) that urban is a lifestyle – not a location. While this might not ring true in all cities, it does in Oklahoma. (<–Wanna talk more about that? Hit me up – or, as the kids say, @ me!)

I have said (and still believe) that urban is a lifestyle – not a location.

Jason Duncan

Ok, back on track. We live in Central Edmond. The Edmond Core. Downtown Edmond. Original Edmond. Historic Edmond. Whatever you want to call it. We love it. We have access (via a short walk or pedal ride) to fresh grocery / farmers markets, coffee, climbing, the post office, schools, our office, entertainment, and more. Yes, we live in a suburb of Oklahoma City but even here, our family of 5 operates with one car. We do what we can to live in this bubble not because we hate leaving but because this is where our life is.

One of the things we adopted last year was a routine of walking to and from school each day with the kids (my ides are 9, 6, and almost 3) and it has become the most important part of my day. As soon as I read that tweet above, it hit me. I have lost that for the rest of the school year because of this virus that is holding us all hostage. Yes my business is hurting. Yes it is putting us under crazy pressure. Yes we have to help keep our kids geared towards progress of education and learning. All of that is a big deal but what I’m stuck on now is that I lost that walk. That 15 minutes of time with my boys to take in our city. To connect. To share ideas and goals and dreams. It’s also our chance to wave and interact with folks as they (unfortunately) drive by.

It’s 4 blocks. Our chance to move freely. Under our own power. To have full control over our experience. We get to live those steps fully not just because we are together but because we feel each one. We smell the city. We hear the city. We become part of the city.

I think it is safe to say that my two older kids are the only ones that walk to their school. We walk everyday as long as it isn’t crazy raining (my 3 year old NEVER lets me off the hook though. He wants to walk rain, sleet, cold, or shine!).

Yes, we get to walk to get food from time to time now. We get to walk for fresh air and to get the pup out but really, we are at home. Waiting. Doing our part to not spread any sickness throughout our community. It’s strange that what to me feels like the death of this strong community is actually what is going to save it.

It all became really clear that the importance of mobility is a lifeline. Without it, life changes. I care about our ability to move throughout Edmond under our own power. I dream of a time when our streets, developments, and future are not car dependent. Where the planet can breathe and we can breathe with it. I want people to feel the freedom of movement. The passing of friends on the sidewalk. The life of interaction that only happens when we are all moving about as we should.

I’m not a city planner nor any expert in the field but I know this. It is worth investing in. I go to all of these meetings so I can bring change. Maybe some fresh ideas. For the chance I can have some say or input in the future. To play the long game.

Let’s talk about all the things we would gain by investing in our community in this way. What are we missing? Go out today by foot or bicycle and try not to smile when you see everyone else out riding bicycles, walking, and enjoying themselves. Think how awesome it would be if those same people felt that way on their way to work, to shop, to run an errand. What if that was everyday life? It would be incredible!

It is not the City’s job to make us walk, ride, commute via public transit, or limit our car use. In fact, there are lots of places in Edmond that it probably doesn’t make sense. What I do think would be a huge advancement for all of us would be a denser inner core, a plan to develop “neighborhood market centers” in the outer areas so that there is a local hub for groups of communities within Edmond (which would cut down on traffic across the city and more — again, @ me if you want to about this!), and progress with our trails, streets, and connectivity across town with alternative transportation in mind.

What would it be like to make this sort of mobility safer for all of us? I’ve worked hard and long towards better pedestrian access in the core: crosswalks, sidewalks, better management of hazards and blockages of these pathways, and more. I believe in it. I think others do to.

It is more than just time from point A to B. It’s the story in the middle that is so important. What’s that story for you?

One Comment

  1. […] a few weeks ago – it is more than just a commute or a way to get from one place to another. It is about strong communities (in your small circle, business, city, state, etc..!). It is healthy, life giving, and really does […]

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