Changing My Corner of the World, One Sidewalk at a Time

6SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/15/2012 6:00 PM   :  110 comments   :  14,132 Views

One of my biggest pet peeves has always been people who complain about things, but never do anything to change them.  For example, it’s hard for me to bite my tongue when friends complain about our political system, but never take the time to go out and vote.   If you’re unhappy about something, I think you should speak up and do something to make it better instead of always just grumbling about how it’s not right.  That’s why I’ve decided to do something that makes me slightly uncomfortable, but is important to me and my family.

I enjoy taking my kids for walks in our neighborhood, but I’ve always been frustrated by the lack of sidewalks.  Our school and church are less than a half-mile from home, but most people in my neighborhood drive there.  The street doesn’t have much of a shoulder and cars drive pretty fast, so I can see why no one is comfortable sending their young children out the door to walk to school.  I’ve always thought how great it would be if they could install a sidewalk so that anyone can walk up the street safely.  So now I’ve finally decided to try and do something about it.

I contacted my township trustees to see how to go about requesting a sidewalk installation.  They said that our county maintains the road, but if I can get 60% of the affected residents to agree to it, then they will support the proposal and try to move it forward.  That means I need to take a petition around to 15 of my neighbors and hope that 9 will agree to sign it.  Oh geez, that means I have to knock on strangers' doors, which brings back memories of selling Girl Scout cookies as a kid.  That always gave me serious anxiety. 

I’ve been thinking it over for a few weeks, wondering if I really wanted to give this a try.  It might not seem like a big deal to some people, but it is a big deal to me.  I finally decided that if I want change, I’m going to have to work for it instead of just dreaming about how I wish things were.  I want my kids to see that I’m trying to help make our community a little healthier and our environment a little better by encouraging people to walk instead of drive.  Wish me luck!

Have you ever done something that made you feel uncomfortable because you wanted to see a change? 


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Comments

  • 110
    I live in the high desert in California. I was born and raised 35 miles south of here and it certainly didn't feel like home when I moved 15 years ago, but I really like walking/running as well. There is a lot of vacant property that is close by and perfect to go out in. Perfect, except for the mountains of trash that nobody cares about. I would take a plastic bag just in case my dog did some business which she never does but I decided to start filling it with trash on my way home. It was VERY embarrassing. I'm walking around like a homeless person collecting recyclables and believe me it was not fun. Several years in, the difference was unbelievable. There was a line of where I made it to. I started to not care what people thought. Every once in a while there would be a new big dump and I would stop picking up because I could never catch up and that made me depressed. I realized that picking up the trash was not entirely about having it all clean, but also about me not accepting that I couldn't change things for the better. I wish you could see how beautiful my little area is now. It still has rusted out cans that have been there 30 years, but I take a little each day and we are all better for it I believe. About a year ago I was struggling with picking up a phone book that somehow got shredded just off the main road and my bag was overflowing but I knew if I didn't get it all right then that it would just be all over the place for the next several months. I was not happy. Then someone rushed out of their house and pulled their trashcan out to me. She tried to start picking stuff up but was already dressed for work so I thanked her profusely and did the manual labor. She said that she saw me all the time and really appreciated it. Wow. I started looking up and really looking at the people that were staring at me as they were driving by and saw that they were smiling. Some of us have even started waving. Everyone wants the world to be a better place and your neighbors are going to appreciate you for being the leader. I know it is not fun to look like a weirdo, but you know who you are so just do what you have to do and the good people will get you and you can forget the rest. Go get'em tiger! - 5/13/2014   12:35:49 AM
  • MCCRAEE1
    109
    Good luck getting those sidewalks. I think it's great that you are trying to get this done. If nothing else, you are going to meet some of your neighbors & learn a bit about your city planning/budgeting/leadership. I hope your neightbors agree with you but if not, I guess you'll gain a better understanding of why they don't agree. - 5/12/2014   11:22:11 AM
  • 108
    So it's 2 years later...what happened? Hopefully you got your sidewalk! - 5/12/2014   9:30:50 AM
  • 107
    There aren't any sidewalks where I live. Not sure if the city would be willing to spend money to put them in. - 5/12/2014   9:18:01 AM
  • 106
    Good luck. This is something I've always wanted to do, too. You may just inspire others! - 5/12/2014   8:32:39 AM
  • 105
    I hope the majority of your neighbors recognize the common good. Where I live there's a "not if it will raise the tax rate" response, not even if it amounts to less than $10 a year - for ANYTHING. Very sad. - 1/1/2014   9:50:34 AM
  • 104
    I think you should go for it.
    We don't have sidewalks in our neighborhood either and our streets are narrow. Not a good combination with plenty of kids in the neighborhood. - 5/22/2012   5:34:20 AM
  • 103
    I wholeheartedly agree with you: sidewalks are so important to our community! I know you can do it, Jen! Good luck! - 5/20/2012   1:24:50 PM
  • 102
    Good Luck - I hope you are pleasantly surprised to find all the doors you knock on agreeable and some even interested in helping you out! - 5/19/2012   10:23:12 PM
  • 101
    That's great! Knocking on your neighbors' doors may lead to improvements in the neighborhood far beyond the sidewalks. Wish I could help, 'cause I LOVE door-to-door canvassing. Best wishes - 5/19/2012   1:25:10 PM
  • MOMRUNNING3
    100
    Great Job stepping outside your comfort zone, great lesson for your kids.
    Good luck, let us know how it goes. - 5/19/2012   9:33:10 AM
  • PNCARLSON
    99
    Wonderful! I know you can do it, and your kids will be seeing a wonderful role model of how to work at getting things done. Even if a sidewalk is not built, at least they will have learned that they can be proactive and try to change things. Good luck! Let us know what happens. - 5/19/2012   7:57:33 AM
  • 98
    You definitely have to do it, when your kids walk to school they'll be proud to walk on "mom's sidewalk" - 5/18/2012   5:08:39 AM
  • 97
    Good for you! Go for it! - 5/17/2012   11:51:53 PM
  • 96
    YOU CAN DO IT!!! YOU CAN DO IT!!! We're proud of you!!! - 5/17/2012   9:37:11 PM
  • 95
    Go for it!!! Wonderful! Everyone will be blessed by it. - 5/17/2012   5:43:56 PM
  • 94
    Good for you. I can't imagine not having sidewalks around. I hope you can get it signed and get it going. - 5/17/2012   1:52:30 PM
  • BAMAJAM
    93
    You are doing a wonderful thing by taking the initiative to accomplish this! Also, as mentioned by others, you are giving an excellent lesson to your children.
    Hooray for you, Jen! - 5/17/2012   1:42:00 PM
  • 92
    I wish you all good things! I am so glad you wrote about doing something, rather than wishing it were done! I hope the fever catches with EVERYONE! - 5/17/2012   11:32:08 AM
  • 91
    Good Luck! - 5/17/2012   2:58:59 AM
  • 90
    Remember there are lots of ways reach this goal! People in our town wanted some so badly. They wrote a grand for them. Strike!! The people didn't stop! They just changed the wording.

    Now we have a bike trail fully funded. SHHH Please do not let them know it is a sidewalk! Thanks so much for reminding me to be grateful for the determination of others!! You have inspired me to find away to make a difference! - 5/17/2012   12:10:31 AM
  • 89
    I did it. It was difficult to go before a school board alone to request bus service, but I did it. We also had no sidewalks and a busy highway. The children were expected to walk because they lived inside a mile to the school. No sidewalk, no shoulder, and the ditches were unkept and retained water. I was seriously miffed that no one had challenged the school before then. - 5/16/2012   7:52:48 PM
  • 88
    I'd sign in a heartbeat. - 5/16/2012   7:43:28 PM
  • 87
    What a great role model for your children. Are they old enough to get involved? Bring them with you when you circulate the petition.
    Good Luck! - 5/16/2012   4:44:09 PM
  • ANCILLADOMINI
    86
    Hope it goes well!!! - 5/16/2012   3:46:05 PM
  • 85
    Ahh. You are inspirational. I am SURE you will get more out of this experience than you can imagine. You will benefit your neighbors health and happiness and make friends in the process. LOVE IT! - 5/16/2012   2:29:23 PM
  • 84
    I did it, so you can too! I first spoke at a public meeting to create a park where previously there had been a bus turnaround filled with junk and a spot in the nearby woods littered with liquor bottles and trash. With my voice trembling, I gave my two cents. 15 years later, I just took my dog for a walk in that lovely park the other day. I talked to some middle schoolers who were just hanging out, but clearly enjoying the sunshine in a nice grass covered place. Worth it? Yes!!!! - 5/16/2012   2:01:34 PM
  • 83
    I think that's a great idea. Not only will you help your community, you will be showing your kids that "actions speak louder then words"! Plus you'll get to meet your neighbors. - 5/16/2012   1:22:39 PM
  • 82
    You can do it! Sidewalks are so great. I hope you are able to get the signatures! - 5/16/2012   1:21:58 PM
  • 81
    Wonderful idea! - 5/16/2012   1:00:56 PM
  • SERENAJL
    80
    That is wonderful. Good sidewalks and safe place for people to ride bikes makes such a difference towards healthy habits. Have you heard about the Nation Safe Routes to School Movement. Google it! - 5/16/2012   12:59:01 PM
  • 79
    Good luck! - 5/16/2012   12:40:25 PM
  • 78
    Go for it! - 5/16/2012   12:15:05 PM
  • 77
    I am absolutely certain that you can get 9 neighbors to sign! Good luck and go knock on some doors! - 5/16/2012   12:06:42 PM
  • 76
    That's so great! Good luck!! - 5/16/2012   12:02:26 PM
  • 75
    Good for you! Didn't Coach Nicole say, "if you aren't challenged, you won't change."

    Good luck! - 5/16/2012   11:47:56 AM
  • 74
    I can totally relate! I'm an anxious person when it comes to public speaking, but I've volunteered which has required me to do so. The good that came/comes from it is so worth my being briefly uncomfortable. You can totally do this!! Way to go with creating a safe environment for your kids and future children who will walk that street! Best of luck to you and your goals :) - 5/16/2012   11:42:53 AM
  • 73
    you can do it. - 5/16/2012   11:40:51 AM
  • DEB_LEA
    72
    Good Luck! - 5/16/2012   11:26:11 AM
  • 71
    I wish you the very best!
    The fact that I started eating a lot more veggies/fruits is what bothered my Mother when I first started my journey. It wouldn’t have been as bad if I lived alone, but since I live under her roof and she was cooking, it bothered her to be out of her comfort zone. It challenged her, but I think that even though she was uncomfortable with it, I was able to change her mind set. It’s wonderful!
    - 5/16/2012   11:24:03 AM
  • 70
    of course you can do it. Let us know when you go for your first walk! - 5/16/2012   10:27:06 AM
  • 69
    You can do it, Jen!!! - 5/16/2012   10:18:35 AM
  • BARBARASCH
    68
    Good luck!! I remember my literally first impression when I moved to the States 18 years ago. My first thought was: these people don't walk!! There are no sidewalks here.. how do they get from one place to the other? I got the answer pretty quick: they drove everywhere. The supermarket was abt. 1 km down the street.. we would drive. It feels still very odd whenever I go back to the States ;) - 5/16/2012   10:10:46 AM
  • 67
    Wow, GOOD FOR YOU!! Trust me, you're probably the only one who will ever actually do something about having sidewalks put in. I bet all 15 neighbors are thinking the exact same thing and most of them probably have kids or nieces/nephews/grand babies who visit and wish that ya'll had sidewalks too to keep their loved ones safe...........DO IT WOMAN!!!!!!!!!!!! I wish you all the best in this endeavor :) - 5/16/2012   10:03:35 AM
  • 66
    The street where I live does have sidewalks, but most of the surrounding streets do not. I still see parents driving their children a half-block or so to the school bus stop, especially when the weather is cold or wet. One of the problems with having no sidewalks or having underused sidewalks so that it makes us less familiar and less trusting with our neighbors: we become "nearby residents" rather than true neighbors. I don't exempt myself from that definition. Until I got a dog and began walking him around the neighborhood, I had only a nodding acquaintance with even my next-door "residents." I still don't know everyone, but I've learned who lives where along the street and at least exchange greetings when we see each other while I'm walking with my dog. I also learned how many other neighbors have dogs of their own, LOL. Not surprisingly, the neighborhood has come to seem much more like a neighborhood, not just someplace where I park my car in the garage. - 5/16/2012   9:51:02 AM
  • 65
    I only have two words for you.

    THANK YOU!

    if only our world had more folk like you oh how much more pleasant it would be to live here. You are a true Gem! Keep up the good work! If you become discouraged, just remember....you are doing a WONDERFUL act of kindness for everyone's health! Again, thanks. - 5/16/2012   9:40:39 AM
  • 64
    After the first house, you'll get into a groove and itll start to come more naturally. Good luck! - 5/16/2012   9:36:58 AM
  • VERONICAOSS
    63
    Stop the subdivisions! That's what is taking away our walkability. - 5/16/2012   9:30:13 AM
  • 62
    When I moved to the USA for a few years, I was stunned to find that the local school did not have a bicycle rack. My brother and I always rode our bicycles to school, and our school was much farther away than the one my children would be attending! When I asked them to install the rack, they said that it had been removed because of theft and vandalism of the bicycles when the children were at school. Instead of building a fence around the bicycles that could be locked during school hours, they removed the racks! Unfortunately, the school my son attends here in Ecuador is a 25 minute drive away from our house, making it impossible to walk or ride a bicycle.

    You knock on those doors -- I bet there are other parents who would be happy to have sidewalks in your neighborhood. You only need eight more! - 5/16/2012   9:29:35 AM
  • 61
    Great blog entry! Good luck on the sidewalks, but this same concept (get up and do something) can apply to many things in life! - 5/16/2012   9:29:29 AM

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