Dodi and I are two of the three scholars who are working locally this summer, right here in Davidson. Our commute time pales in comparison to the other scholars… unless we walk. Which is a sight to see as we walk in the grass on the side of Beaty Street in our business casual clothing. Both on Beaty Street and Ingersoll Rand’s campus, there is limited sidewalk accessibility. Door to desk, our commute is approximately 4 miles roundtrip. The walk is actually pretty enjoyable, as it wakes me and my body up in the morning and lets Dodi and I recap our days. However, on our walks we have come across how structurally most of Davidson is not compatible with clean commuting. The first time we clean commuted to work, we rode some of the bikes from the Sustainability Office at Davidson. We did so without helmets and quickly found that bikers on Beaty Street are not very welcomed. We further found ourselves having to bike behind and alongside cars both on Beaty Street and on part of Ingersoll Rand’s campus, because of the limited access to bike lanes. The security guards to Ingersoll Rand’s campus found our biking on campus (I was riding a children’s bike with flowers on it, for the record) to be comical. And it was. The next few times we clean commuted, we walked. Instead of walking down Beaty for the majority of the walk, we walked down north Main Street and turned onto Beaty. We set out, armed with our lunch boxes and backpacks, and set out for campus. There seems to be no social code for where Dodi and I should walk on Beaty Street and the first half of campus, so we walk in the grass on the side of the road. This time, we walked up to the security shack and swiped our badges. As the security trip arm mechanism lifted up, we walked under the bar like a children’s game of limbo.
Again, the security guards were amused by our walking. We’ve run into a few mishaps in clean commuting. For example, I left my security badge at home and had to call Kate to bring it to me, as Dodi and I stood in front of the Ingersoll Rand street entrance sign. Additionally, the North Carolina weather tends to be unpredictable. One of my co-workers kindly drove Dodi and I home one afternoon after a bizarre hailstorm that we would have had to walk through. I will say that we’ve certainly made an impression on the security guards and they definitely recognize Dodi and I and call us out when we drive to work. When we drive to work it is usually out of necessity due to weather, meetings off campus, or time restraints.
What Dodi and I have learned from our attempts to clean commute was that sustainable living has to be intentional, but structurally and culturally. While we, and likely other members of the house have realized that without the structure and expectation to live sustainably, it is far too easy to not. These past six weeks have been a taste of what it is like to live sustainably without structural intention but with cultural intention.