Friday, May 07, 2010

Building A Better City

Spring is here in DC and the city has seen fit to build a fantastic new bike path--called the Metropolitan Branch Trail--that runs about 2 miles, virtually from our house to downtown DC. It's lined with spiffy solar-powered street lights and they have grand plans to extend it all the way from Union Station to Silver Spring. The path has made my bike commute immeasurably more pleasant, not just because the trail avoids busy streets and buses and taxis, but also because it seems to have avoided all the steep hills.

I should back up. Our current house is nestled among a clutch of modest sized hills (DC is surprisingly hilly!) meaning that any reasonable path to work inevitably involved a sweaty uphill slog. (Yes, I'm lazy. But in my defense I'm usually biking before having coffee.) I even went so far as to consult topographic maps to find some sort of minimally vertical route to work, but it turned out that the optimal path actually ran right along the train tracks that snake through Northeast DC leading into Union Station. But then, cleverly, the city decided to route the new bike trail right alongside those tracks. Nice job DC!

Bike trails are one of those things that aren't super-expensive but that you can imagine stressed-out budget cutters eying skeptically. So yay for DC deciding to invest in a small thing that makes the city better, greener, safer, healthier, friendlier. (OK, obviously I'm selfishly invested in this one, but little by little the path is getting more and more use. You can see it from the metro tracks and I bet a lot of people crushed into a 9am train are thinking about buying a bike now.)

In that same vein, I should probably say something about the new gay marriage law. DC has now joined 5 states (and one Indian tribe!) in granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Our church scheduled its first such ceremony for the first available Sunday after the law went into effect. The two grooms in question were both pillars of the church community who had been together for three decades, and they chose a Sunday service to make it 'official.'

Church was packed and everyone was extremely psyched for the couple -- the pastor quipped that the turnout was even higher than Easter. In addition to wedding joyfulness I also remember feeling a distinct (and quite spring/Easter-like) sense of possibility. After all the struggle and frustration and gridlock of modern life, it is in fact possible for progress to happen. Usually change is so slow that it seems like it will never happen, but then all of a sudden, it is there. We can do things.

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