Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lucky Town

Sometimes I go rather far afield for my job, like this past July when I rode all around the state. Today, I got to stick close to home, representing the Bicycle Alliance at the official opening of the Issaquah-High Point Regional Trail connector. You have to come up with something to say at these things, so I got up early and jotted a few notes. I knew I'd be talking after the mayor and the council people and the various transportation folks had said their pieces and pretty much thanked everyone. I wanted to keep things brief but still say something. This is what I said.


A couple of weeks ago I was at the opening of the new REI here in town, chatting with a fellow. Most of the time he's working at one of the REI stores in the southwest but he'd come to Issaquah to help open the new store. "You're lucky to live here," he said to me and when he found out I'd lived here for the past 14 years he added, "I bet it's changed a lot."

And I found myself telling this fellow how the space where the REI and the Safeway and the Target store are now had all been an open meadow and how old-timers remember back to when the 12th Avenue Cafe was on 12th Avenue and how there used to be cows grazing right across the street from my kid's elementary school. But mostly I told him how we still have salmon in the creek, and while some of the old farms are becoming condos, others are becoming parks. I told him how Rainier Boulevard was changed to better manage run-off, how abandoned rail lines have been turned into trails, how folks are working to clean up litter on the roadsides.

And I told him about the trail to High Point and the path under the freeway and along the shores of Lake Sammamish. How folks can walk and bike to places instead of driving and how the pieces link together in a greenway. How folks who never set foot or wheel on these paths still get value from them, for when you or I are hiking or walking on these paths, we're not sitting in a car stuck in traffic on Front Street. How every bike trip that's not a car trip helps keep the air just a bit cleaner.

We all make choices. How we vote, how we spend our money, how we spend our time, all these things really do matter. Ultimately, as Gandhi said, "actions express priorities." These trails and the bits of green we all share and enjoy and depend on are here because good people have put in a lot of work to make sure these things are not only here today, but here for our grand-kids and for the salmon, the heron, the frogs and all the rest of the world.

A lot of non-glamorous work goes into making a livable town. Lots of boring meetings, a lot of argument, a lot of compromise. To actually do things takes money, time and lots of good old-fashioned heavy lifting. It's really amazing that anything ever gets done.

But things like the Highpoint connector do get done and we owe a huge debt of thanks to the people who have put in all the work to make this happen. And now is when we roll up our sleeves and pitch in somewhere. Issaquah is a great place to live, but there still is plenty of work to do.

We are lucky to live here but it's the kind of luck Bruce Springsteen wrote about and I'm going to take the liberty to paraphrase the Boss just a little bit:
"When it comes to luck, we make our own
we've got dirt on our hands, but we're building a home."

Post a Comment