Yesterday’s news out of Boston rattled me.
Those that know me well, know that September 11th made a deep impact in my family’s history. On top of that, my Dad and my Aunt Joan both completed the Boston Marathon.
So when I look at yesterday’s tragedy and say that there’s a peaceful way Angelenos can fight back against whoever plotted and executed that attack and, it’s not something I say lightly. Think about it for a second. Terrorism is using force in some form to scare people and keep them apart. Keep people in their houses and behind closed doors. Keep people from meeting and understanding their neighbors. Keep people angry.
The idea of Livable Streets is the exact opposite.
Livable Streets is about breaking down barriers our society has accidentally (and not accidentally) created that keep people apart now. There’s no greater example of the power of Livable Streets than our own CicLAvia.
This Sunday, somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 of your neighbors will take to the streets in Downtown and Mid-town Los Angeles and West Los Angeles. Tree Hugger might think that nobody in L.A. rides a bicycle, but we know better.
You won’t know many of the participants. But one of the many great things about CicLAvia, is you’ll probably know more of them by the end of the day. And that gives all of us a chance to make Sunday about more than a car-free trip to the beach.
CicLAvia provides an easy chance to thwart those who aim to keep all of us from getting to know, understand, and love one another. Get out and enjoy your city on Sunday. Make a point to meet someone new, someone that doesn’t look or act like you. Maybe it’s someone wearing a logo you don’t recognize. Maybe it’s someone wearing a Reason Foundation t-shirt. Maybe it’s someone riding a Streetsblog themed bucket bike.
Every new person you meet, every chance you take to connect with a neighbor is a strike against those that would divide us. If you can’t make CicLAvia, and I’ve missed the last two myself, you can accomplish the same thing by making it a point to meet your weird neighbor with all the cats, or the angry person in the grocery store who never seems to find the time to be polite.
I’m sure there are some people that feel like framing CicLAvia as a response to what may or may not be a terrorist attack is bonkers. There are others that may object to what they see as politicizing a giant block party. But CicLAvia has always been about more than just a party and always has some politics mixed in with the revelry. After all, what better use of public space than peaceful political expression be it the rally against coal power at the first CicLAvia or the intersection of CicLAvia and Occupy in October of 2011.
And when expressing a political preference and being a friendly person happen to require the same action…even better.
Even from 3,000 miles away, there’s a lot of ways you can help the victims of the attack in Boston. Huffington Post has a pretty good list right here. Certainly there are more concrete ways to lend aid to those attacked than being nice at CicLAvia. But the best long-term strategy to end this kind of senselessness is to create a world where we can all live, and learn, and love each other. Sunday’s car-free party is just one way to make the community of 11 million L.A. County residents just a little bit smaller. A little bit less scary. A little more unified.
So, let’s make this CicLAvia one where we all take advantage of the day, the event, and the city to push back at those people that spread hatred and division. It all starts with a smile to a stranger at L.A.’s biggest party.
See you on Venice.