Here’s an editorial piece that I wrote and performed on NPR a couple of months back. You can listen to the radio broadcast here. Here’s the text:
Where’s your sacred space? For most people, it’s a building where they go to worship with friends and family members, a favorite quiet spot in the wilderness, or perhaps the final resting place of a loved one. For me, it’s a bike route.
The Wiggle, a meandering path through the Lower Haight and Panhandle neighborhoods of San Francisco, has been used by bicyclists for decades to avoid an exhausting climb up and over some of the city’s legendary hills on their way to the Western half of town. Before the advent of bicycling, the indigenous Ohlone people traversed a similar path walking to and from their seasonal villages, and the route even hosted San Francisco’s first Farmers’ Market back in 1943. Today, “Riding the Wiggle” is a bona fide rite of passage for a sprouting alliance of bicyclists and sustainable community activists living in the Western Addition section of San Francisco. For us, the Wiggle is a growing symbol of community identity, site of countless happy run-ins with friends, and a natural saver of energy of the highest order – our own human energy. The Wiggle is literally our connection to the rest of the city, and as we traverse it we carry with us our new values, our radical ideas, and a deepening sense of profound meaning for our lives.
There’s just one problem: The Wiggle doesn’t look very sacred. With the exception of a bicycle inspired mural and a brand new green bike box along the route, the streets that make up the Wiggle don’t hint at the burgeoning sustainability movement pulsating under the rubber of our tires. My group, the Wigg Party, is working to change that. We not only want everyone who rides the Wiggle to be more overtly aware of their co-creation of this sacred space, but we want visitors to San Francisco to have “Biking the Wiggle” at the top of their to-do list.
Our first project is creating a Gateway to the Wiggle – a 20 ft long arbor that will have scarlet runner beans and passion fruit for bikers to glean as they ride through. As they munch on a freshly picked bean, bikers will pass 100 yards of seasonal vegetables growing in planters’ boxes. The rest of the route will feature sculpture gardens at each turn, calming roundabouts at key intersections, permeable sidewalk gardens, window boxes lining the houses along the way, community produced art on the actual asphalt, and a whole slew of projects in the iconic Panhandle at the tail end of the Wiggle. Ultimately we hope to make it a car free zone.
When we’re finished, the Wiggle won’t be just a bike route – it will be a world-renowned symbol of the transformation to sustainability and the latest incarnation of the revolutionary spirit of San Francisco.