My walk began near Housatonic on the other side of I-95. I then headed north along the length of Barnum Avenue before going fifteen miles on U.S. 1, with a few detours here and there. It was not a pleasant walk, although there is lots to see. It is a brutal landscape of immediate convenience. Fast food franchises, malls, furniture stores, auto body shops, apartment buildings, and lots and lots of access roads to I-95.
Yet, like in any environment where people live, there is still plenty of community—bars, bowling alleys, gyms, churches, and people going about being people. Which means being social.
I had intended the walk as a (somewhat gimmicky) excuse to talk about our country’s education system. But that isn’t what I thought about for the twenty-mile journey, because once you get a few blocks away from Yale, or Housatonic, neither matters. West New Haven is the same as East Bridgeport. Both have the usual signs of lower-income urban areas. Churches, liquor stores, low-income housing, some older building falling down, a few nonprofits, street memorials to the slain, and a bunch of people making the best of what they can.
Instead of education, what I thought about was how we build roads, especially interstates. How we choose, or how it is chosen for us, to live. How we always build communities, despite the roads, despite the sprawl, despite the consumption.