Connecting Walking And Citizenship
Walking is only the beginning of citizenship, but through it the citizen knows his or her city and fellow citizens and truly inhabits the city rather than than a small privatized part thereof.”
~ Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking
I’m still engrossed in Wanderlust. It’s a slower read than I’m used to because, like walking, it’s full; there’s no wasted step. Passages are read over several times and each time something unique is noticed.
The above quote is setting the stage in contrasting the modern American city with a certain disintegration of citizenship. We have, over the last 50 years, become more alienated from our neighbors as life becomes more and more a series of ‘sections‘ of time spent in privatized space. Hence, people cock their head to understand when we talk about the streets as a public space; as streets as a place. Most people simply don’t recognized it as shared public space, rather it’s no-space that’s managed and regulated. We pass-through it safely within our transportation pod; we spend our day separated from strangers unless, by professional or social circumstance, we are introduced for some ‘purpose‘.
Walking can be solitary; walking can also be extremely social. It open us to more opportunities to interact with fellow humans, not just their automobiles. A walking city, a walking culture, is an engaged citizenry.