Opinion: A Reflection On Cars, Garages, And Community

Photo: Flckr.com. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

An elected official felt sorry for me today for buying a house without knowing there would be a parking garage across the street from me in downtown Amherst. It was the best of intentions, but please, do not feel sorry for me. 

This entire town should feel sad about prioritizing cars over people, cars over history, cars over neighborhoods, cars over our beautiful and clean air. Cars, cars, cars…yes we all want and need them, but the time is coming when what we want won’t matter. COVID-19 gave us a taste of that, but wait for the storms of unimaginable size and strength, temperatures that make us feel like we’re on another planet, soil that won’t grow the stuff we need. Yes, that’s what’s coming and we’re speeding it up by thinking cars and thinking how we need to be able to drive right up to the place where we want to go when we want to go, and 50 cents an hour is too much to pay for parking – yes, we want free parking, we’re entitled to it, we have a right to park for free, and we need to have it at the doorstep of where we want to be. Oh, and if we have to walk past one building, no trash on the way please, give me a covered bridge and air conditioning too. 

Do you think your car affords you safety? In the long run it does the opposite. Let me tell you: our needs and our wants will not matter, and we won’t even care, because we’ll be struggling to live, to breathe, to be….

COVID is a gentle introduction to what will happen with climate change. 

I would like a sustainable town, trees that can protect and shade us, air that we can breathe, water that we can drink. Would you give all that up for a car you can drive right to where you want to go, when you want to go? If you would, remember there may not be a place to go to…and we can imagine this because we’ve just lived it.

As for me, garage or not, I will have my neighbors, people I barely know; people who have shown me kindness, who are friendly, warm, people who feel like my community. So while I appreciate the good intent, no, please, don’t feel sad or sorry for me.

Rani Parker

Rani Parker is a resident of North Prospect Street and the Lincoln-Sunset Historic District

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