Monday, October 6, 2008

The trail, part 1

We asked our client to give us a little more information about the trail and how the map will be put to use. Please read part one of the history of this great space and the mission.

Our place and our project…has involved a few giant leaps of faith in the last decade. We have kept at it by, essentially, telling stories. This has been crucial in slowly building civic and community support and collaboration. Now we have a trail (first half) within a 15 minute bike ride of over 400,000 people, many in economically challenged neighborhoods underserved by green space, by transportation options, by family-supporting-wage jobs, and by a healthy environment. (One of the first big steps in this larger project was the research and documentation by a local community health center connecting constituent health problems with environmental health of the river and the air in our communities).

And yet… our trail and its environs is still a secret to many, or has longstanding perceptions that keep people away. (At one meeting in summer of 2006, city officials were shown a recent projected image of the park from the viaduct looking west down onto the river, restored banks looking green and healthy, the river looking its sparkling best… and an alderperson asked which river that was… mostly, I think, because the thought of it being our river was out of their realm of possibilities).

We know that continuing to tell stories, and sharing the love, is how we reach the community and trail users, how we engage stewards, how we persuade funders, and how we inspire equally challenging projects in other cities. You, mapgiving, can enrich the stories, tell them more effectively, and reach people more effectively. And with a big trail extension in the works that doubles the length of the trail and will finally connect to the state trail network really effectively… we’ve got an even bigger story to tell.

This trail was just a gleam in people's eyes for many years. We’ve got a ways to go, but already the trail is actively used by commuters, kids, families, runners, employees on lunch breaks, and school classes.

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