You, O venerable one, are perhaps indeed a seeker, because, in striving for your goal, there are many things that you don't see, even though they are right in front of your eyes.” Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
Monday, June 9, 2014
Open Streets Minneapolis: A Day Without Cars on Lyndale Avenue
Would your city do this, shut down one of you most travelled streets? What would happen? What would people do? In Uptown Minneapolis, the cars were all pulled off the streets and the party started. I thought I would share a few pictures of the day, because as we hear more and more about our growing dependency on oil, the residents of Minneapolis, Minnesota decided to come together to bike, walk, skateboard and draw in the streets for an annual event called "Open Streets Minneapolis".
Right next to Lyndale Avenue, the Harleys were parked, the street was closed off to any motorized traffic and slowly, on Sunday morning the people began to emerge from the neighborhood. A group set up their ping pong table. The tables and chair came out for all of the small eateries in the neighborhood. There was an air of enjoyment of the warm weather that we crave. After a long hard winter, these are the days we live for. The only ones who stay inside are either sick or dying. No one is watching TV or on a computer. It's time to get out there and just explore.
Parents took their children out to play, and it almost seemed like a memory of simpler days. The kids were doing what they do best, play.
A whole 8 hours of no traffic jams, no cars, no trucks, no deliveries and no emissions. There was nothing competing with the song birds. For about a mile there wasn't a single car on the road and the people came. Sounds odd, doesn't it? All of this just so that people could ride their bikes up and down the street, enjoy the sunshine and look at how peaceful it could be. But there was a purpose for this. One of the reasons Open Streets exists is to promote our bike trails. Minneapolis has an incredible amount of bike paths, trails and bike lanes, ranking within the top 5 in the nation. As far as commuting to work, we're also near the top, and that's saying something, because our winters can be incredibly vicious.
So on this day of chalk drawings on the asphalt, instead of cars, the residents came to show we care (and also like to have a good time). The kind smiles, the friendly hand shakes, the good natured feeling as people just exhaled, made me feel glad to be home.
To be able to see scenes that seem to go by the wayside in other places and see them here, reminded me why I call this city home. A lemonade stand set up by an industrious little boy who bellowed out, "ALL NATURAL LEMONADE, 100 PERCENT REAL" made me realize our kids are paying attention and also know how to take advantage of a hot day outside.
I also saw that we are putting into practice what we need to do to change. If Germany, with a similar climate to ours can change to more solar energy usage, so can we. This new solar program gives a person credit for allowing solar panels to be installed. I gladly shared their information with a few friends that were wanting to reduce their energy bills.
All in all it was a very beneficial day.
And the gas stations were idle.
And the kids...
well, they were having fun too.
The garage bands moved their shows to their front lawns.