January 11, 1995
Auto-Free Bay Area Coalition / "Going Clean Journal"
P.O. Box 10141
Berkeley, California 94709
Re: The Magic of Place
The other day I heard a story on public radio about how the hippie era was started by a countercultural group in Virginia City, Nevada. They wanted a place to congregate where they could express themselves as they wished, so they opened a bar called the Red Dog Saloon. (Wasn't it Margaret Mead who said that a small group of dedicated people is the only thing that has ever brought about change?)
The Bay Area is ripe for just such a change. Wouldn't it be great if the people who want to change our transportation and environmental culture had a place to hang out and plot the overthrow of the automobile, the road, the parking lot, and the U.S. Geological Survey?
In my home town, Olympia, Washington, that place was a certain bookstore containing an alcove with a couch and a coffee pot -- nonverbal signs reading "you are welcome to hang out". I can't think of a single other business where people (i.e., humans not acting the role of "customer") are allowed and encouraged to be themselves and momentarily step off of the shopping treadmill.
Please put your heads (or other parts) together and help create such places, preferably one in each town (we don't want to generate unnecessary travel; as David Engwicht says, the purpose of the city is to maximize exchanges while minimizing travel)!
Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.