December 5, 2007

Walking Off the Big Apple, or Not

To walk off the Big Apple, or not to walk off the Big Apple, that is the question, because I have the option of never leaving the apartment. After reading the Brookings study about walkable communities, I realized that contemporary life and technology have made it such that I never have to walk anywhere at all.

I could stay inside all the time, making my livelihood on the Internet and ordering groceries, pet food, new clothes, a treadmill, books, art supplies, and whatever else I need to sustain my existence. If I get lonely, my friends could come over and visit, although they would complain that I never went anywhere. The dogs certainly need to go outside, but I can hire pet walkers for that service.

I could build the WOTBA empire just by sitting at the dining room table, pounding away at the laptop and occasionally moving from room to room. I could just make up walks that I imagine and illustrate the walks with drawings.

For all the discussion of building walkable communities, we may want to engage in discussions about why walk or have communities in the first place. Health professionals may say that walking improves physical fitness, and urban planners and political theorists would argue that urban communities and public spaces improve the conditions of democracy.

I'm happy to let others put forth these health, moral, or political arguments. As a flâneuse, I just love to walk the streets that I share with others because strolling and observing life around me uplifts my joie de vivre. I like that. Plus, kung pao chicken doesn't taste the same at home.

Image and anecdote: A New York friend told me that when her phone broke, she turned to her partner and asked, "How are were going to EAT?!!"

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