Walking Piece

Move to a major metropolitan area in the U.S. (preferably one that is new to you).

Find one or more historic roads (not highways) that go through both city and suburbs. Ideally, they trace the path of old Native American trails.

Start at one end of the road and walk 25 miles.

Wear clothing that is a presentation of your identity(ies). Also wear comfortable shoes.

As you walk,

     Look at buildings and trees and people;

     Take a tally of banks, supermarkets, parks, strip malls, and potholes;

     Pick up trash and other objects (if you want);

     Listen to the sound of the cars passing;

     Say hello to people (or not).

As you walk, think about

How the automobile industry and the Federal Aid Highway Act enabled the creation of the suburbs in the early twentieth century;

How laws and practices such as restrictive covenants, redlining, harassment and mob violence limited African Americans (and other people of color) to a few neighborhoods in central cities;

How the discriminatory application of the GI Bill along with aforementioned laws and practices spurred white flight to the suburbs;

How zoning laws, lack of regional land use planning, and the profit motive have created urban sprawl;

How disparities in the tax base and job base are kept in place by lack of regional cooperation;

And any other local variations to these themes (do some research first).

When you finish, go home.




Back to Walking Detroit page.