Is Walking Becoming Obsolete?

While I walked 20 miles each day for the Michigan Breast Cancer 3 day this weekend, I had a lot of time to look around and just think. One of my big realizations over the weekend was that we were the only ones walking around in the downtown, neighborhood and nature areas along our path.

Coming from living in downtown Chicago where we all walk around like crazy, it made me wonder. Let me clarify that I don’t think it has anything to do with Michigan suburbs. I actually think it has more to do with our country than anything. Take for example, the new campaign I saw for the first time last night as I cozied on the couch to rest my weary gams. ABC’s National Stay At Home Week has me scratching my head. Are you kidding me?

As the weather cools down presenting us with majestic shades of yellows, oranges and reds, some money hungry corporation is going to tell me to stay home and watch television? I became incensed. With the state of the economy and the environment, I thought we were all looking to simplify by searching for those free treasures that the world provides. Or is a troubled America settling for a simple escape so we can watch someone take a adventure rather than making an effort to explore for ourselves?

How do these little not-so-subliminal suggestions impact our culture? I know what Abner Serd would say. If you don’t know his story, Abner Serd’s choice to walk the US revealed some startling facts about how this country is literally and figuratively divided.

Did you know that you cannot cross the Mississippi River on foot? After being accosted by police, Abner found that one has to be in a vehicle to cross this very large body of water. Add that to the countless times he was stopped by law enforcement, groups and just plain old people across the US wanting to know why he was walking. He found the majority of people could not understand that he simply wanted to walk.

My husband and I received a similar reaction when we shared that we were not getting another car after our lease expires. We were met with quizzical looks and even a gasp. “You have children!” they exclaimed as if we were going to strap sacks on their backs like burros in mid-winter. Heavens! Even when I very slowly explained the philosophy behind car sharing with companies like i-go and zipcar, their jaws did not raise an inch. I contemplated using visuals until I recalled the NPR discussion I heard recently where the guest said a car was way more personal than a home. Hmmmm. Tell that to the people losing their homes.

In the end, I think of the campaign we joined a month ago- Leave No Child Inside. Is it the yin and yang of life where you will always have some type of division among people? A division between those who are willingly embracing a lifestyle that focuses on nature and conservation and those that are happy watching life pass them by. It saddens me to think it will take rising fuel costs and a poor economy to force the majority to understand the numerous benefits of walking.

Original 5 MInutes for Going Green post. Read more about Jen’s adventures going green while raising a family in Chicago as The EcoChic Organizer.

9 Responses to Is Walking Becoming Obsolete?
  1. Dawn
    October 1, 2008 | 7:34 am

    In reference to you last comment…hopefully people Will finally get it.

    I live in a community where they are putting bike/walking paths all over…but I find that it is not safe of convient for me to take my kids to the store, post office, or many other places because they don’t seem to connect. The scariest ride was on a designated bike path, on the street, with cars going 40 mph past us, and my dd hit the curb with her bike…I nearly passed out. Many of these places I can go on my own, but it’s still scary because drivers are annoyed that I have to go into their space for 50 feet or so because “my” space was cut off…

    I hope that we become a better more concious nation during this “crisis”.

  2. lolasmom
    October 1, 2008 | 8:00 am

    I’m happy to report that in my little neighborhood, walking is alive and well!

    However, my brother who chooses not to have a car and walks to work, to buy groceries, etc… has also been stopped many times by police asking him why he was walking.

    I also thought the National Stay at Home Week was ridiculous – and this is coming from someone who does all the out-and-about during the day and relaxes with my hubby in front of the boob tube in the evening. Like this country needs any excuse to stay home and watch TV??!

  3. Mimi
    October 1, 2008 | 8:36 am

    This was so well written and so right on! It is a shame that people see the act of walking as something foreign. Not only are you reducing your fuel costs thereby reducing your impact on Earth, you are outside getting D vitamins, getting EXERCISE (which we know the country needs) and (in my case anyway) getting to know your neighbors who also walk!

  4. Jennifer (The Eco Chic Organizer)
    October 1, 2008 | 8:41 am

    Thank you Dawn. I know even in a city where people bike and walk a lot it is so hard to get the drivers aware of us. I love that they put a trail near you. Maybe you can use the bike path/trail as a nature getaway from the hustle bustle?

  5. Jennifer (The Eco Chic Organizer)
    October 1, 2008 | 8:42 am

    I hear you Lolasmom… I can’t believe your brother gets flack because he is walking. Hopefully it gets better.

  6. Jennifer (The Eco Chic Organizer)
    October 1, 2008 | 8:44 am

    Excellent point Mimi! Getting to know your neighbors is a really wonderful part of being in a community. Thanks so much for your kind comments.

  7. Lisa
    October 1, 2008 | 10:24 am

    In my town cops “pull you over” for walking. Make you show id and make you feel like crap for walking! I know someone that had this happen like three times in a few weeks and he is not a scary looking guy or anything, even white so it’s not a race issue.

  8. Analisa Roche
    October 1, 2008 | 8:29 pm

    I am so glad to see you mention National Stay at Home Week! I was horrified by that!

  9. Stephanie - Green SAHM
    October 2, 2008 | 11:29 pm

    My husband and I enjoy the bits of walking we do in our area. Walking our daughter to school. Taking family hikes on the trails nearby. Sometimes even walking for a date to restaurants a couple miles off when the kids are with grandparents. Never been stopped, even after dark. It’s a really wonderful thing to live in an area where we can do that… even if friends who drive by the next day are wondering if our car broke down.