walking the talk

my friend aaron – all-round artist, geek, environmentalist, treeplanter, and last not least full-time human being – is at it again.

he’s walking for the cure from cars.photo by aaron veldstra

talk about walking the talk. and since this time he’s documenting his journeys so beautifully, we could say he’s also talking his walk.

so. the cure from cars. let’s see what aaron has to say about this:

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. …

today, it’s harder to differentiate cars from SARS … massive mechanical ants that suck out the resources. they pollute in exchange for a blind convenience. … 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.

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 financially able. …

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. …

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.

the motto of my practice is making lives better, making better lives. i like the idea of assisting people in their personal lives so that it gets easier for them to be a positive influence in the world.

now as far as i remember, aaron’s mental health is in excellent condition – i don’t think he needs help in that area right now. this health probably has something to do with the fact that he is one of the most congruent people i’ve ever met. he knows what his values and dreams are, and he fashions his life accordingly. plus, doing all that walking can only be good for you!

so this is how i support aaron today – by telling his story. if i’d have to say it in six words, it might be

he observes. he thinks. he walks.

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