Saturday, February 03, 2007

Bloodlines, Arterial Flows, and You and Me

My friend Kelly from MN, in her comment to my post of January 23rd, wonders whether I, or anyone down here in the South Cali Virtual Space connects riding the bus with environmentla justice; she notes that even in the liberal wonderland of Minneapolis the people who ride the bus are mostly folks of color and other Others.

Well yes, dear Kelly, I have noticed, but let me see if I can put it in terms that have meaning for me today, paradigms that connect the flows of trafffic with the human arteriality, the individual practices of deterritorialization that have gone on with me lately. Arterial flow is structured similarly in humans and in transportation systems, and solutions to blockages in these systems have similar dynamics.

The problem for our freeway system is usually presented here in gas-tax rich California as a problem that can be solved by more roads; these addditional freeways, we are told, "relieve" the "congestion" caused by the increasing numbers of cars. We eco-travelers, however, know the score: no amount of freeway concrete will be enough to relieve the need for more freeways unitl we learn to transport ourselves more effeciently, with less space, using fewer calories of fuel and fewer acres of land.

The problem runs deeper than the number of cars. It is the way we transport ourselves, with wasted space and wasted materials, in an ever-increasing, addictive need for speed that is unhealthy for us and for the ecosystem. Freeway bypasses fill up as fast as they are built, and will continue to do so, until we develop new habits of travel that relieve the source of the congestion, not its flow.

I know this fact from personal experience in my own arterial flows. When I went under the knife recently to have femoral arterial bypass surgery, I knew that despite the new routes for blood flow offered by the new freeway in my leg, I would have to get at the root cause of the congestion, and not merely provide yet another road for the sanguine traffic within me. The causes for the congestion, such as smoking, eating fatty foods, an overabundance of shallow bodily gratifications, would fill up my new freeway just as fast as the new bypass over State Route 56 will fill up if it ever gets done.

Reducing arterial congestion, you see, is as easy as quitting a few bad habits which tend to territorialize many systems in our modern world. Driving to the store for Cheetos not only plugs up my arteries, but the community's arteries, too.

After going through the surgery, I plan to just cut it out.