Health care is a basic human right, not a privilege. For some reason, we’ve allowed ourselves as Americans to be fooled into accepting that one must be blessed with “means” to actuate appropriate health care. As a nation we have failed to realize that our health care system is a barometer of our society’s value for human life.


Friday, April 20, 2007


I am fascinated with roads.

For as long as I can remember my relationship with the roads that network my city has been an intimate one.

Roads are not merely pavement, but rather the soul of civilization. Any town, any city, any metropolis, all are webbed with roads. Their very nature is largely a determinant of the feel of a city.

In Santa Fe the city map is on a triangle grid. This is odd in comparison to most cities, which are mapped on a square grid. Why is this so fascinating? In Santa Fe all roads in the city proper lead to the plaza, which is the center of Santa Fe. A square surrounded by commerce, people and filled with trees bricks and park benches. And all roads lead to this center. Their brick, their paved, their gravel….

There is a feel that can only be felt on certain roads. There is one such road in Saint Paul. Summit Ave. A road not just unto itself, but lined by roads. Centered by trees. Shadowed by great houses, accompanied by brick schools and beaten pathways. To run down this road is to feel the breath of the trees. To drive down this road is to bump from stoplight to stoplight, hidden artfully on corners. Runners flock to this road. The ambitious ones run up it. The more mellow ones run down it. The adventurous ones run on the mud path in the center of the island that separates it. Walkers flock to this road. Perhaps only to gaze upon the houses that guard it. A beautiful road.

My trip to work every morning is littered with roads, paths predefined and flecked with personal opinion. One road I meander up nearly every day is a narrow one, lined with ramblers rather than shadowing giants of houses, and flecked with occasional stoplights. I love the modesty of this road. I love the presumed quiet of this road. I love how it strips down through the heart of the city, you know, the heart of the city that only the people that actually LIVE in the city know of. This road effectively breaches all highways and major intersections yet cuts a most effective path from point a to point b. It is a quiet path that courses within a block of our day care, within a block of the college, swiftly past the elementary, and within a block of the post office. It courses quietly over the river with an unimpressive bridge and continues to lead from city to suburb on a most unassuming path. A quiet road. I love this road.

I have found particular joy in roads that cruise along on curves and along-side freeways. Only the folks that have truly found the city they live in know of these roads that best the daily traffic squabble. These roads are often littered and without sidewalks. There are no houses or signs that mark most intersecting roads, they simply unannounced travel from destination to destination, the navigator the only determinant of when these roads shall end. They travel under overpasses and unobtrusively over unmarked railroad tracks. They get you where you are going. They serve their purpose as a path that underbellies the typical traffic scheme. They are beautiful.

I do not feel as though I am part of where I live until I have made a connection with its trails. I cannot feel comfort in my city until I know the alternate route. The connecting path. The along-side alley.

1 comment:

Minnesota Nice said...

Yes, Summit Avenue is truly lovely in the old-style way. F. Scott Fitzgerald used to live there. It reminds me of my now-departed foster Granny, Harriet. Each year between Christmas and New Year's we'd have a little celebratory dinner and then take a long drive down Summit and look at the Christmas lights. She usually insisted on driving and would be so busy talking and looking that I was fearful we'd get in an accident. But, we never did.