Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Our story so far...

It has been a while since I posted to this blog. Mostly because almost nothing has happened. Since sending my complaint to USDOJ, I have received no correspondence from them. No case number, no contact agent, no information of any kind.

Except one.

As a coincidence of living so close to the seat of government, it turned-out that the head of the Civil Rights Division for USDOJ has a daughter who played on my duaghter's lacrosse team last Spring. I spent the entire season nodding and saying "Hi," but I never sat and talked with him, for fear I would get too worked-up. It was only near the end of the season that I got-up the nerve to walk with him to his car and ask if he could tell me what was going on with my complaint. He was very kind and offered to help. He gave me his card and the next day I emailed him a copy of the complaint with a breif explanation. He returned my email with his assurance that he would forward it to the right person and have them follow-up with me.

That was three months after I filed the complaint. Now it has just passed six months, and still no word of any kind.

I decided to take this time to reflect on the situation, and to see just how much time would pass without any word. I have taken lots of photos and videos, but not posted anything since May 27th, until now.

On September 1st I decided to contact my Representative in Congress. Below is a redacted copy of the release form I sent them. I emailed this along with a copy of the complaint.

On another front, I had been in contact with Nancy Green from Montgomery County. We had emailed about meeting sometime. As we were both busy, we decided to try and schedule something over the summer. AS before, I decided to let things sit for a while to reflect on the situation. Ms. Greene has made no attempt to contact me. I guess I will continue to see just how long Montgomery County intends to ignore me. No one from DOT has had any contact with me since March.

I feel that perhaps this task is too bug for me. I feel like I am wasting my time. I feel frustrated and discouraged. I know things like this take time, but I am weary and I want to lay it down. Unfortunately, that may mean surrendering a part of myself that no one should be expected to give-up. Nothing replaces the feeling of being able to confidentially negotiate through your own neighborhood with dignity -- on your own. The constant fear of being led into a deadly situation strips-away one's dignity. Fear that could so easily be avoided.

But sidewalks have been an afterthought for so long. The people I talk with spend so much time in their cars that they are barely able to understand what I am saying to them. I am one of the most persistent pedestrian advocates in Montgomery County,  What chance does the average pedestrian have of getting through to them? About ZERO.

I am not alone. Everyday I walk by dozens of people just like me. Skipping over topsy-turvy tree boxes. Crossing in the middle of the block because the intersection is too dangerous. Tripping over things sticking-up out of the concrete. Tripping on broken concrete slabs. Walking in the street weeks after a snow storm because the snow was plowed-up off the street and deposited onto the sidewalks. Walking into fire hydrants, utility poles, and guy-wires.

Some are in wheelchairs, some with white canes, some with no car, some with no license. Many of them don't drive at all. They walk or take public transit because that is how they live - without owning a car.. They Bike. These people deserve to be served in the right-of-way just as much as the people flying-by in their personal vehicles. In some areas, they deserve MORE consideration than those in personal vehicles. Yet we suffer the torture of a thousand little cuts. Countless - and un-counted - flaws, barriers, dangers and risks.

How can I continue to live here and give-up on this? Should I just shut-up and start finding a way to get driven everywhere I go? If you have ever had to count on someone else for transportation, then you can imagine how it feels to do it full-time.

That is the story so far.I'll report when I hear from someone --- ANYONE?
It feels an awful lot like I'm losing. I had to scan the document to email to Congresswoman Donna Edwards' office, so I might as well let you see it.

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