The Walk For the Cure From Cars
"It is true, we are but faint-hearted crusaders, even the walkers, nowadays, who undertake no persevering, never-ending enterprises." Henry David Thoreau~ from: Walking 1862
Cars have given much to the world's population, specifically its North American population. With Henry Ford, cars became an intrinsic part the world's economy, bringing great wealth to many coffers and jumpstarting an immigrant's America. Later, Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady mythologized the car with their rambling drives through a mid-20th century America. Cars shrank the world considerably, allowing people to discover new places and investigate the world around them. This was the beginning, when cars offered a solution and when their population density was still low. These were the glory day of the automobile.
Today, it's harder to differentiate cars from SARS. Teeming into the millions, they are everywhere all the time. Massive mechanical ants that suck out the resources. They pollute in exchange for a blind convenience. In an age of shock and awe, it becomes easier to ignore the problems we perpetuate on a daily basis. A car seems banal compared to a WMD. We become complacent. We move to the suburbs and get into the car in a vain attempt to drive away the terror of contemporary existence. No longer just a useful tool, the car menaces us, threatens our existence, and still we drive.
The Walk For the Cure For Cars is not a fundraiser, though it borrows the idea that the simple act of walking is deliberate and effectual. This project is an investigation of North American car culture by foot. It's a simple solution to a complex issue, but beauty lies in the simplicity. Rather than ignoring the issue, or standing stunned in its headlights, the project takes literally the proverb that a journey begins with a single step. While many environmentalists advocate "walk to work" day, this project pushes the idea of walking to transport oneself to its logical conclusion. Walking is not an afterthought, a one-day-a-month "good deed," it is the central component of the project. For centuries, those seeking meditation and enlightenment have understood the value of the journey on foot. The Walk for the Cure From Cars is my attempt to understand what I see as the dilemma of modern existence through the ancient act of putting one foot in front of the other.
As Thoreau noted, Walkers are an ancient an honourable class, bearers of the heroic spirit in modern times, a group outside of Church, State and People. While I do not purport to hold such lofty ideas about myself, this project, I believe, is a valiant attempt to reconsider a growing and massive problem. The Walk itself is a personal project. I spend a few months each year traversing a chosen route on foot. I started by walking from Vancouver to Calgary in 2004. A horribly underfunded event. Then I spent the fall of 2005 crossing Newfoundland in a trip entitled Walk the Rock. Winter of 2007 will mark the beginning of my most ambitious trip to date—a walk up the west coast of the United States from San Diego, CA as far north as I am finacially able. It is difficult to translate an experience that is so wed to an embodied act into an easily disseminated expression, but that is the intention of this body of work. During each journey, I produce a series of reflections and photographs that document the people and experiences I meet on the way. I often interact with the marginal in society, those off the main roads, living along the beaten paths of walking routes. In coming to understand the complexity of the lives that make up my route, and in speaking about my own motivations, a certain kind of community is built—a mutual understanding grows. While I have come to understand that those living in the interior of Newfoundland could not exist without their 4x4s, they understand that a stranger has taken the time to get out of their car and saunter through their territory, unprotected, interested and ready to engage. Everyonce and a while running into those people who do live without cars. As BJ and Doris do in South Branch NF. This fabric of humanity is only of the aspects of human existence that is threatened by the burgeoning numbers of cars clogging roads, ripping out forests and polluting the air. By reconnecting with the land, the people and the experience of traveling one step at a time, The Walk for the Cure for Cars gives a glimpse of a communal world, a less terrifying world, that thrives without the need for speed.
Thank you for taking the time to read these words. I feel that there is not a singular Cure for cars. There are many. Carpooling, hybrid cars, better public transit, bicycling, 100 mile feasts, the list could go on and on. It is the responsibility of all concerned to work together to beat this deadly disease.
special thanks goes to my sister Carolyn for helping to flush out these thoughts