Vermillion Walk-About


One thing I know about Vermillion is that it’s possible to walk anywhere you need to go in around the time it would take to drive there–sometimes a little longer, sometimes even quicker. So my little part for sustainability lately has been to walk to where I need to go as much as possible. Today it was about 15 degrees in the Southern paradise of the Dakotas, so I bundled up and walked over the the English Department to drop off a book and a movie for colleagues, then back across town to pick up a few groceries. I was sweating in my wool turtleneck sweater, leggings, and jeans by the time I got home!

Granted, you can’t always look incredibly fashionable while you’re trudging through 4-6 inches of new snow and ear-numbing temperatures, but heck, you’re bundled up, so few people are going to recognize you anyway. Besides, the day was gloriously sunny, and us plant people need that light in the dark months so that we don’t go entirely dormant sitting in front of our computer screens.

(Shameless product plug: I am thankful for my fleece-lined Merrell clogs and their fantastic, no-knees-out-of-joint tread.)

I’m not above taking the truck when I need to do a heavy errand, and I’ll admit that with the slippery sidewalks, I drive my dog down to the dog park for her afternoon play date (she’s only civilized on a leash when she’s tired), but it seems to me that all of us in Vermillion could and should be doing a lot more walking. How many university faculty, staff, and students burn precious fuel starting their car to warm it, driving five blocks to campus, and then another five blocks to find a parking spot? I’m sure there are good reasons to do so at times, but I’m guessing a good number of those trips could be cut out to the benefit of the person and the planet. That, and I am tired about students railing about how we need to pave more parking spaces. I believe we need less parking on campus, not more.

Part of my feeling about this comes from my dislike of exercise outside the realm of productive work. I suppose I could purchase a gym membership and drive there, work out (on the treadmill?), then get back in my car and drive to the grocery store for a few items, then drive home. Or, I could just walk to the grocery store, buy my groceries, and walk home. I am guessing that it would take less time and be a lot cheaper without the price of the gym membership, gas money, and wear and tear on the vehicle.

Let me make clear that I don’t consider myself a paragon of sustainability. I am just working on it, and as I work on it, I discover all sorts of nonsensical things we do that are not especially good for us or the environment. And then I blog about them in what I hope is a lightly humorous and humble way.

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