By the time I turned 10, my family had moved three times. We spent five years in both Memphis and Houston before migrating to southeast Michigan for my dad’s job in the automotive industry. I lived in Michigan for eight years before returning south for college. All of the places I’ve lived differ from each other, but one thing they all have in common is their unremarkable transportation systems.
It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I began to understand the importance of “alternative” modes of transportation to achieve environmental sustainability goals. As an undergraduate, I was actively involved in the environmental advocacy student group on campus and interned for several years with the university’s Office of Sustainability. As a senior, I completed a research project to analyze and make recommendations to enhance the City of Oxford, Mississippi’s Complete Streets policy. This project paved the way to my first job out of college as a Sustainability Fellow in the sustainability office. In this position, I transitioned from working on policy to developing educational programs and planning engagement events focused on active transportation. In the few years since my first job, my interest and appreciation for transportation has deepened.
Last summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). The experience of living car-free in a city like San Francisco taught me as much, if not more, as my internship itself. I had major Craigslist luck and found a gorgeous apartment within a 10-minute walk of work. Most everything I needed was within a 10-minute walk - groceries, parks, entertainment, restaurants and bars. For everything else, I hopped on the bus directly in front of my house that took me all the way to the ocean. It was really that simple.
I imagine our trip to the Netherlands to be similarly transformative as my summer in San Francisco, perhaps even more so. Through this course, I plan to learn new design principles and strategies from the Dutch that can be integrated into the current transportation network in Atlanta. Additionally, I hope to get to know, work alongside, and learn from my peers in the class.