Going slow. Shovelling snow.

Breithaupt Park in Winter.jpg

My biggest goal and greatest challenge is going slow. When I have succeeded at stopping my body from moving my mind goes on. And on. I don't think this experience is a unique one. This seeming need to be in constant motion is a function of my nature, I'm sure, but is also no doubt spurred on by the pace we are expected to keep in today's world. In doing my best to keep up, I walk and bike less than I would like to. 

This month's chapter talked about the effects of biking and walking, especially for increasing our sense of place attachment. Combining this knowledge with my ongoing goal to go slower in general I decided to end as many work days as possible a half hour earlier than usual. I would walk, rather than drive, to pick up my kid from daycare.

This was hard, mostly because I like to think in thirty minutes I can produce a lot – send more emails, write more words, get caught up on the news (i.e., scroll aimlessly through social media). In the end, thirty minutes at the end of the day wasn't much to give up. I realized, though probably already knew, this time of day is not productive for me at all – my brain is moving slowly and it's a real slog to get much done. So, a walk at the end of the day might actually be the best thing for me - our dog gets out for a walk, I listen to a podcast or some music, and I also spend a little bit of time by myself, something I love to do. 

Frigid temperatures and the snow accumulating on sidewalks made walking difficult some days, though. The challenge of navigating a stroller and our 60+ pound dog along snowy sidewalks has been an important reminder of how difficult it can be for older adults or people with physical disabilities, for example, to get around during the snowy months and how this restricted mobility can result in feelings of isolation that could contribute to anxiety or depression, as this article describes.

While snow removal on residential sidewalks in Waterloo is the responsibility of the homeowner, chapter two has me reflecting about alternative possibilities for sidewalk snow removal. In this Twitter thread I chatted with a few people about alternatives (like heated sidewalks!) including Robin Mazumder, a University of Waterloo doctoral candidate whose expertise lies in strengthening urban communities, including improving infrastructure so that cities become more walkable and bikeable. Snow removal can be a matter of life and death in his view and even if "citizens must do their part", as he said on Twitter last year, he also believes "cities should take responsibility for sidewalk maintenance".

What were your thoughts while reading chapter two?

More on going slow

I'm currently taking a long time to read a very short book that encourages going slow in an academic environment.

On a favourite podcast of mine, Edit your Life, they talk about going slow a lot and this recent episode talks about the benefits of doing so during the holiday season, like for seeing Christmas lights and how moving slowly can help you discover your neighbourhood differently, mirroring what Warnick says about walking around where she lives:

On foot, going slow, I saw its details. Attic windows made of old-fashioned wavy glass. Gold stone lions keeping vigil outside the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house. I entered a narrow alleyway I'd never seen before, which revealed Secret Garden style, a tiny church across from a miniscule park (p. 42)

More on city infrastructure

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Examining snow removal and other policies through a gendered lens.

This post was originally posted on jenvasic.ca in January 2018 as part of a chapter-by-chapter review of the book “This is where you belong: Finding home wherever you are.” That website no longer exists, but I have migrated the posts here

Jen Vasic