It is rare for me to leave my normal routes around the University between classes or club meetings, but the other day I decided to take a different stroll around my community outside of campus. I never realized the multitude of activities that dance around me day by day as I pass by them without even the slightest of acknowledgements. This walk was different. It was eye-opening…
I started walking with my SLR and tripod up University Way or lovingly called “The Ave” by students. It was in the afternoon around noon that I made my first trip. I was slightly intrigued by the lack of traffic on the Ave during this time of the day as normally my trips on the Ave took place during the evening hours where “The Ave” is generally vibrant. It was surprisingly sunny that day and the sky yelled “Summer is fast approaching” as I took each step.
The stark contrasts in building styles and designs were enormous! I would walk out of Alder Hall, which looked like a 5-star hotel compared to the Rick’s Gyros stall just a block ahead. Cafe Solstice was reminiscent of the crammed, small Amsterdam coffee shops I had visited a few years ago. Shalimar, an upscale Indian restaurant with a small waterfall inside looked magnificent whereas its counterpart, Spice of India, looked like an army canteen with a touch of elegance. I couldn’t help but compare the half-painted Cedar’s Mediterranean Place with the sprawling Starbucks. But across all buildings and stands one thing was the same: the hustle and bustle.
I saw this downtown express bus departing and couldn’t help but take a long shutter speed shot to capture the speed at which things took place on “The Ave.” The bus was jam-packed with students, residents and tourists all scrambling to get to various parts of Seattle. Then I thought to myself, “how are bus routes going to change if King County Proposition 1 were to be passed?”
So I went to this website to understand more about what the proposition is all about.
Next year, “2/3 of King County metro routes will be affected” (SeattleTransitBlog) by budget cuts. So the proposition is “a 0.1% sales tax and a $60/year car fee (with a rebate for low-income individuals) to fund roads and transit in King County over 10 years. 60% of funds raised would go to buses” (SeattleTransitBlog).
Image courtesy of Kevin’s Bus Rail: http://www.kevinsbusrail.com/kcmetro_gillig-40.html
If I were not to have deeply thought about that bus, the idea of researching this proposition would have never hit me. In fact, the next day coincidentally I saw rallies regarding this proposition on Red Square. Raising awareness about social issues is an integral part of the university culture. Having an politically educated student body is very important as us students will go on to determine the fate of our country. After researching about the proposition later that afternoon I went for another walk in the evening.
It was much cloudier yet busy during the evening time and I saw “The Ave” sprawling with students. This time around I tried to capture the hustle and bustle of pedestrians as they rushed to small restaurants to grab a quick bite and get back to their busy schedules. But I was absolutely thrilled by the reduction of cars on “The Ave” come the evening time. I expected the number of cars to increase as we went later into the evening, rather it decreased. On the contrary, I saw a good number of bikers moving along “The Ave.”
This led me to conduct another mini research project in which I tried to find how the mode of transportation to/from and within college has been changing over time. This article by Urban Milwaukee has an explanation for how colleges have been “coaxing” students out of using cars.
According to the article, “104 colleges and universities around the United States provide free or reduced-price transit service to students” (Urban Milwaukee). This push for alternative modes of transportation has been extremely important in the “green movement” across the United States. There is increased consciousness about CO2 emissions and there are clearly efforts taking place across colleges in America to reduce these emissions and create environmentally sound habits among the younger generation in order to bolster the use of these alternative modes of transportation when students graduate and leave college.
I never realized that a trip to “The Ave” could spark so much discussion about social and environmental issues such as the upcoming elections and CO2 emissions. It just goes to show that there is a deeper meaning behind virtually everything we see in our community. I guess what Lynch and Rivkin strive to do in their article is espouse that exploration of the tiny aspects of our surroundings only enhances our understanding of our society and interest in our beautiful Emerald City.