This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose, in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.
I’m writing this in Boston, well, literally in an oak, wainscotted dorm room at Harvard, in Cambridge across the river from Boston, but both cities share a successful Red Line subway. A Red Line and a Blue, Orange, Green, and Silver, too and buses and a commuter rail and Amtrak and everything is easy and runs well and is safe and connects like a dot-to-dot a child might do so that even I, a map-deaf Neanderthal who can’t find her way out of a paper bag, can navigate with two children from park to cold brew coffee to park and back again. Boston is a city with successful public transport. And green space, and independently-owned coffeeshops. Baltimore, hon, you can do this, too.
There are sidewalks. Like, everywhere. If one chooses not to take the 77 bus up Mass. Ave from Harvard Square to Davis Square, Somerville, or the Red Line subway, one can walk. One has choices. It is so refreshing, that kind of freedom, and even though I am being a little lay-it-on-thick with the freedom stuff, hey, it’s the 4th of July this weekend.
Coming to Cambridge for the summer from Owings Mills my kids, 8 and 10, are always shocked by the subway and the sidewalks with people on them. “Mom,” they ask me, “Why are there no sidewalks in Owings Mills? Where is everybody? (Answer: in their cars, sweeties, as in little isolated pods along ugly York Road and that’s no way to build beloved community, with parking lots and asphalt. Save the Red Line.)
They ask, “Why isn’t the Baltimore subway longer? Why can’t we easily get to DC by train, or even Towson?” And I say, “Good questions. Let’s talk about politics, public policy, taxation, white flight, disinclination to invest money in Baltimore City, the suburbanization of the Americs and zoning for commerce.” And they’re like, “Darn. Do we have to?” I’m like, “Yes. You might have been born in Boston, but you are are Baltimoreans now, and heirs to this conversation.”
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