At some point within the past three years, I became a hippie. My eco-consciousness shifted into high gear, I switched to a plant-based lifestyle and my cycling habits developed into an obsession. While I still own a car, I rely on it less and less(aided by a move to a big city). All of these changes have been gradual, and incorporated into my lifestyle in organic ways—pun intended.
My journey to becoming an eco-hipster started while in college. I attended a film festival in Los Angles that focused on urbanism, and began learning about how the built environment shapes our daily experiences. Briefly: As the US began expanding following WWI and especially WWII, we expanded by use of, and hand in hand with, the automobile. We have built a world dependent upon the automobile, sacrificing walkability in our cities and towns. I started seeing these patterns everywhere: little things, like poorly placed parks and neglected sidewalks bordering pristine roads, and big things, like strip malls with no paths to them but the roads leading into their parking lots. The car has control of the narrative of our lives.
I seek an experience contrary to this by using my bicycle more than my car. At a slower pace, and removed from my protective steel shell, I am able to soak up my surroundings, and maintain my human perspective of the world I live in. Out of a car, I can interact with people. I support local business in smaller, more human-oriented communities. Malls are places for consumerism. Cars and corporations are the focus, not people. The way I choose to live my life is on a bicycle in a community designed around the people who live there, and not the corporations that stand to profit.
There is something much more pleasant in my life about going to my local stationer to pick up a hand painted greeting card (from the artist) before grabbing a cup of coffee (from the person who selected the beans) to head to work. These stores, and others like them, focused on the community, are around my job and where I live. I discovered these places on my bicycle, and enjoy them more completely when I don’t have to sit in a car and fret about parking.
Without considering the health benefits of commuting by bicycle, for both my body and the environment, there is much to be said for this simple lifestyle choice. With my bicycle, I regain control of my time—going where I want, when I want—and care for myself, my community and the environment.
written by Matthew Dezii
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