22.1.09

Crossing Guards of the World, Unite!

I've written about this corner before, which despite its bourgeois pretension, is really a terrific Twin Cities neighborhood with terrific sidewalks.

But I was hanging out near Carter Avenue the other day, and saw what must be a twice-daily sight in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood... the crossing guard parade.


[Kidlins crossin' the streets on Carter Avenue.]


It's such fun to watch these kids fearlessly parade out into the crosswalk and wave their giant orange flags in front of cars, which become utterly helpless before this group of highly-visible munchkins. I like it for a lot of reasons:

First, it completely upends the typical power relationship between machines and people, so that even the smallest people rule over even the largest SUVs. Compare this to the way in which children are clutched by parents along every other busy street. This image strikes me as far and away more just.

Second, to all appearances, the kids are actually in charge. Sure, there's probably an adult hovering overhead somewhere, making sure sharp sticks stay out of eyes, etc. But, these kids seem to me to be self-determined, in charge of their one task... making the streets safe for pedestrianism.

[Adults watching trustfully as their children stand in the middle of the road.]


And finally, crossing guards are a sign that kids are actually walking to school. No more paranoia about abduction... down with lazy, bored, and fat children! Instead, we have the noble virtues of fresh air, exercise, and exploration. Plus, it's far cheaper and better for the environment.

Of course, I'd like to see more of this, but it's an incredibly difficult task to change a school dynamics from a car- to a foot-culture. Growing up, my schools all had huge parking lots.

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