The Barlew Blog
Last month, I finished my first half-marathon, the Scenic City Half Marathon and Charity Challenge.
To prepare for the 13.1 mile run, I completed seventy training runs between early December and race day on February 22. In the process, I ran nearly 150 miles and burned approximately 22,500 calories. And, many of those calories were burned running on the Brainerd Levee.
While I was out on one of my training runs, I snapped this photo of the levee as it was discharging water into South Chickamauga Creek, a local tributary of the
That realization got me thinking about how many of us fail to consider our public infrastructure, such as bridges, sewers, roads, levees, pump stations, and the like. Without these critical elements, upon which we all depend, our modern society could not function. We should all be more appreciative of, not only the infrastructure itself, but the men and women who design, build, and maintain these important components of the built environment. We owe these dedicated professionals and their completed public projects many thanks for allowing our lives to be cleaner, safer, and more efficient.
Photo by David Barlew, Jr.
And, now, Glass Street has trees given by the Chattanooga Tree Commission, placed by the department of public works, and planted by teams of volunteers.
Change is coming fast to Glass Street, and I am so thankful to have been involved in its renaissance as Glass House Collective continues its work to "bring life back to Glass Street and Glass Street back to life."
When I moved to the Brainerd area of
So established is
By writing this post, I'm hoping to answer precisely that question. After several years of periodically using public transportation in
To and from work each day, I drove myself in my own car. I didn't think much about it. In fact, I continued to drive my car exclusively until 2010, when my vehicular habits were suddenly changed by an event several hundred miles to the South.
Beginning in April of that year, horrible pictures of dirty and dying animals, stained beaches, and filthy brown water caused by the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill entered the news. Following those initial reports were stories of inundated, ruined marshlands, and distraught, unemployed shrimpers. It was awful.
I decided then that I didn't want to be part of this anymore, and by this I meant the American love affair with oil. I didn't want to be part of the oil-soaked birds, the washed-up dolphins, and the ruined coastal communities. I didn't want to be part of the dirty beaches, planes dropping dispersants, and dying sea life. Having seen all of the horrible images, I decided that I would try to reduce my gasoline consumption.
For as long as I can remember, I have always been an advocate for public transportation; to me, it has always seemed like an attractive, logical, and cost-effective option for moving people from place to place.
I am impressed by public transportation's potential efficiency. Public transportation has the ability to move large numbers of people with a very low ratio of material per person. Public transportation requires less metal, rubber, plastic, and glass on a per person basis to move a given number of people. Public transportation also reduces the need for parking lots, parking garages, and extra lanes on the highway, all of which free up land and space for higher uses, such as businesses, housing, parks, and natural areas.
All of that said, it took something dramatic to shake me from simply being a passive supporter of public transportation to being an active user of public transportation. To paraphrase Gandhi, I needed to be the change I wished to see in the world.
The transition from talking the talk to walking... err, riding the ride isn't easy. There is a big knowledge curve to wind one's way through. As I said at the beginning of the post, I knew nothing about
Even after you learn all of the logistics of the bus route and schedule, you have to screw up the gumption to get on the bus for the first time. No, really. You don't think about it until the time comes, but there are so many little anxieties about the bus. Who will be on the bus? Taking transit in
But, if those poor pelicans down at the Gulf could withstand being coated head-to-toe in petroleum, surely I could overcome some minor anxieties about the unknown to try
And, that is what I did.
Beginning in May of 2010, I started riding the bus on the number four route a few times per week. I still drive, yes, but much less than before. Over time, the trips taken by bus---and not taken by car---really begin to show up on the odometer. I actually drove my car so little during 2011, 2012, and 2013 that my car only required one oil change per year based on mileage! Riding the bus has turned out to a good way to save wear & tear on my car and save money in the process. More importantly, riding the bus has allowed me to use far less gasoline, which was my impetus for riding the bus to begin with. Goal accomplished.
Riding the bus in
I find the tabulation of bus arrival times to be the most helpful. I can continue to work at my desk with this window open down in the corner of my monitor. I then know when to leave at just the right moment.
The Bus Tracker software also has a map feature. The map is customizable; by checking different boxes, a rider can modify the map's content to display different routes with the locations of the buses along that route. The map above shows Route 4 and its buses.
The CARTA website works great on mobile devices.
And, the Bus Tracker software works well on smart phones, too. With so much rider information available at one's fingertips, riding the bus becomes just as easy as hopping behind the wheel.
This isn't to say that expanding access to transportation is impossible. In the early Twentieth Century, streetcars serviced areas like Belvoir, Missionary Ridge, and
I ascribe to the "build it and they will come" point of view. In recent decades,
Until then, if you have the opportunity to ride the bus, please give it a try. You might just like it. The pelicans in the Gulf and your car's odometer will thank you.
Written by David Barlew, Jr.
All photographs by David Barlew, Jr.
Permission to use screenshots of Bus Tracker software in use granted by CARTA on 6 July 2012.
While many people take joy from spending time in the great outdoors, natural environments such as forests, mountainsides, and beaches can be difficult or impossible for individuals with mobility issues to access. Rock formations, loose sand, uneven terrain, and other obstacles all present problems for physically-disabled, nature-loving individuals who want to get out and experience the wonder of the natural world.
In recent years, though, I have visited a number of beautiful, natural places where efforts have been made to make wild environments accessible to everyone regardless of physical ability. Through the installation of walkways, decked surfaces, and ramps, diverse landscapes ranging from tropical beaches to Appalachian hillsides to Slash Pine forests have been opened to individuals with physical disabilities.
The Kendeda Canopy Walk at the Atlanta Botanical Garden in Atlanta, Georgia offers visitors of all abilities the opportunity to pass through the high canopy of a broadleaf, humid subtropical forest typical of the southeastern United States.
The walkway winds its way through "the branches of oaks, hickories, and poplars" (Atlanta Botanical Garden).
It also provides ample seating along its length through the forest's many tree trunks and branches.
The Kendela Canopy Walk is an attractive, elegant structure, and, according to the Atlanta Botanical Garden website, it is also the only "canopy-level walkway of its kind in the United States" (Atlanta Botanical Garden).
A similar, though much longer, structure has been constructed to the north in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The South Chickamauga Creek Greenway in East Chattanooga weaves its way between trees and against steep rock faces as it follows the meandering course of South Chickamauga Creek below.
The greenway allows visitors to observe both forest and wetland wildlife while travelling along the sloped side of a ridge that rises out of the creek. Rock formations, trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and other natural elements are readily visible along the elevated, wooden path.
The greenway provides a smooth, easily travelled passageway through otherwise difficult terrain and opens the beauty of South Chickamauga Creek and its environs to everyone.
Equally challenging terrain has been made accessible by the East Slough ADA Hiking Trail at Julian G. Bruce Saint George Island State Park in Eastpoint, Florida. The hiking trail creates an accessible path from sun-kissed sand dune beaches along the Gulf of Mexico through native pine flatwood forest to the green marshlands of Apalachicola Bay.
Passing through the light shade of tall Slash Pine trees overhead, the ADA-accessible boardwalk trail allows visitors of all abilities to see the native evergreens, grasses, cacti, and marshlands representative of the Gulf Coast ecosystem.
Another installation farther to the South in Luquillo, Puerto Rico allows individuals in wheelchairs to access the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Known as el Mar sin Barreras (translation: Sea without Barriers), this accessible beach facility is located at el Balneario de Luquillo on the northeastern coast of Puerto Rico. As far as I know, this is the only beach on Earth where individuals in wheelchairs can enter the Atlantic Ocean in a conventional wheelchair.
The picture above was taken at low tide, but, at other times, the water comes right up to the ramp and submerges the beach-level landing.
El Balneario de Luquillo also features wheelchair accessible picnic pavilions, concession stands, and shower facilities, making the entire public facility handicap accessible.
Although natural environments such as beaches and forests can present challenges to individuals with physical disabilities, it is nice to see that efforts are being made to open the beauty of nature to everyone regardless of physical ability. Thanks to the installation of accessible infrastructure such as ramps, boardwalks, and smooth surfaces, physically-disabled, nature-loving individuals now have the opportunity to access the wonder of the natural world.
Written by David Barlew, Jr.
All photographs by David Barlew, Jr.
"Kendela Canopy Walk”. Atlanta Botanical Garden. Web. 25 February 2014. http://atlantabotanicalgarden.org/plan-your-visit/map-locations/kendeda-canopy-walk.
"Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park”. Florida State Parks. Web. 25 February 2014. http://www.floridastateparks.org/stgeorgeisland/activities.cfm#22.
All work and no play makes for a boring, boring Architect.
So, when Mother Nature blanketed
Play for an Architect, though, still requires some rigor. Those stereotypes about us... yeah, they're kind of true.
So, what resulted when I took to the snow is a six-level, square pyramid made from blocks I formed and cut by hand.
Seeing that the public art mounting pad was vacant, I decided to put up my own installation. I call it "Snowchitecture".
All photographs by David Barlew, Jr.