When the 35W bridge went down, we heard what many consider heresy, and certainly a minority opinion: "don’t replace it, use the money on social causes, we’ll get used to the detours." If only it was that simple. To this one heretic, it was like a greater force was telling us we shouldn’t need to go so many places so fast.
Individual motorized transportation allows us to do lots of things that dilute our sense of geographic community. The car allows us to choose any church rather than going to the church in the parish where we live. Or, to go shopping or to recreation instead.
The car, and in many cases, school buses allow our children to choose any number of options rather than staying and fighting for quality in our public schools.
The car allows us to go people-watching in other neighborhoods, and of course, for people from other neighborhoods to come here.
But wait. This newspaper is full of examples people enjoying the company of neighbors down the street. Going to church in the same part of town. Taking care of each other. Promoting the local schools. It does happen. It’s a choice, and it’s easy. It’s comfortable.
The Plymouth Avenue bridge is closed. You may or may not have used that bridge to get to shopping. Chances are more likely you use the internet for shopping than the Plymouth Avenue bridge. Perhaps take this as a sign that for regular shopping and in this holiday season, you can find what you need in your "own back yard." As we’ve said before, it’s twice the gift when you shop locally.
Now, let’s go beyond the holiday season and get an early start on new year’s resolutions; yes, before that Dec. 31 night when the party is hearty and bedtime is way too late and even with the weekend to recover you wake up Monday painfully aware of those needed resolutions. Why not resolve now to find one product or service...just one...that you regularly buy from a big-box or large corporate entity, and buy that product, for one whole year (at least) from a local small business? While it’s true that your resolution alone wouldn’t have much of an impact on the local economy, imagine what would happen if 1,000 or 10,000 or 100,000 people made the same resolution? It could add up to keeping "real money" closer to home for a longer time, which helps keep local people working close to home and local businesses thriving.
But wait, again, you might say. How green is it to get in the car, or even to take public transportation, to go to a local business and buy just one product? Not very, you might say, and you’d be correct. Not to worry, you’re likely to find enough products at that business, or other nearby local businesses, to make the trip worthwhile; and pretty soon you’ll forget about that "just one product" thing.
As time goes by, living locally seems to take more and more effort. Ask those who do it well, and they’ll tell you it’s well worth it. Closing the Plymouth Avenue Bridge might look like one of life’s "lemons." We can either pucker up from the sour or find the opportunity in the problem and "make lemonade." We recommend the latter.