Changing My Corner of the World, One Sidewalk at a Time

By , SparkPeople Blogger
One of my biggest pet peeves has always been people who complain about things, but never do anything to change them.  For example, it’s hard for me to bite my tongue when friends complain about our political system, but never take the time to go out and vote.   If you’re unhappy about something, I think you should speak up and do something to make it better instead of always just grumbling about how it’s not right.  That’s why I’ve decided to do something that makes me slightly uncomfortable, but is important to me and my family.

I enjoy taking my kids for walks in our neighborhood, but I’ve always been frustrated by the lack of sidewalks.  Our school and church are less than a half-mile from home, but most people in my neighborhood drive there.  The street doesn’t have much of a shoulder and cars drive pretty fast, so I can see why no one is comfortable sending their young children out the door to walk to school.  I’ve always thought how great it would be if they could install a sidewalk so that anyone can walk up the street safely.  So now I’ve finally decided to try and do something about it.

I contacted my township trustees to see how to go about requesting a sidewalk installation.  They said that our county maintains the road, but if I can get 60% of the affected residents to agree to it, then they will support the proposal and try to move it forward.  That means I need to take a petition around to 15 of my neighbors and hope that 9 will agree to sign it.  Oh geez, that means I have to knock on strangers' doors, which brings back memories of selling Girl Scout cookies as a kid.  That always gave me serious anxiety. 

I’ve been thinking it over for a few weeks, wondering if I really wanted to give this a try.  It might not seem like a big deal to some people, but it is a big deal to me.  I finally decided that if I want change, I’m going to have to work for it instead of just dreaming about how I wish things were.  I want my kids to see that I’m trying to help make our community a little healthier and our environment a little better by encouraging people to walk instead of drive.  Wish me luck!

Have you ever done something that made you feel uncomfortable because you wanted to see a change? 

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SNUZYQ2 8/5/2020
We’ve been blessed by being located just a few doors away from our local school district office and adult school. The school district petitioned the county to get sidewalks installed and voila! We got them! I hope your project went through without a hitch! Report
CMFARRELL36 6/11/2020
How did you get on with your project?
Hopefully you now have both a sidewalk and some new friends! Report
AZIL5678 4/26/2020
Best of luck with your positive intentions. I hope your efforts were a success. Report
Great, good luck Report
NELLJONES 3/22/2020
Good luck. Report
Understand the goal. Hope you make it! Report
ANNIEMAROO 11/23/2019
I hope you got the signatures and that the new side walk you worked for is now being used!!!
WTG!!! Report
RAPUNZEL53 10/29/2019
Great Report
In other words, enjoy yourself! Great advice. I've been a walker my entire life, and see no reason to change it. I love getting outdoors in nature. I don't want to run - I'm afraid I'd miss something, startle those deer or flock of birds away before I get a chance to stop and admire them. Do what you love. Report
So, @CoachJen - how did this play out? did you get your new sidewalk?? Report
Walkable neighborhoods are important! Report
I don't use my scale to tell me that I am losing, I use my clothes to tell me. If they are looser on me, I know that I am losing. Report
I live in a neighborhood with steep hills and I use them when I go walking. Report
Interesting. Report
That's awesome, good luck. I agree with you specially about the politics part, I always vote but decided if I wanted to complain about how things are going I needed to actually do something. So now I march and support my candidates. And it makes me feel good besides doing what I feel is important. Report
good can do it Report
My sister petitioned the city she lives in for a much needed stop light. Took a few years but a light has been there 15 yrs or longer now. It is sorta up to the citizens to notice what needs to be done, then try to take the steps to get it done. Community gardens come to mind. Thanks all for sharing. Report
Especially true in today's political environment. Get out there and make an impact. Report
what a great way to take make things work. Report
I would be nervous, too. It IS so much easier just to WISH something so, rather than MAKING it so. Report
good for you Jen! you may be surprised how many of your neighbors "wish" they would do something about the sidewalk, but didn't translate that "wish" into action. Good luck and stay safe! Report
I live in a city which only puts sidewalks in a few places, not in 5he neighborhoods. Report
Way to go. The community is yours if you will take ownership. That means all the responsibilities of ownership too - but ... it's yours. Report
We lived near an area with A WALKING PATH, I walked on it also, but was amazed how the varied age groups used it. Many dog owners used it religiously. Report
When our son started school I discovered the elementary schools did not have a library. I asked why. The Principal told me he would love a library in the school but the kids did have book boxes in every room. I asked our son about the books and he said he had read them all so I checked and he was right they were all books we had read together. I asked the Principal if I could start a library and I involved myself at the state level to accomplish it. I asked as many people I could ask in our area and I got 450 books for 250 kids. Then I asked the principal to put the books from the classroom in to the library. That made it work. I was a non paid librarian for 13 years till all our kids had moved on. The 4 elementary schools eventually all had voluntary librarians and I had my project in "Whose Who" in 1972 copy of the book. I try to be forward when I see some situations in our city that might be done better, I like having input. Pat in Augusta Maine. Report
Would love to hear how you're doing on your sidewalk project. These types of stories are so inspiring. You've certainly brought on so many more stories out by sharing your own. You know you are not alone. Report
I live in the high desert in California. I was born and raised 35 miles south of here and it certainly didn't feel like home when I moved 15 years ago, but I really like walking/running as well. There is a lot of vacant property that is close by and perfect to go out in. Perfect, except for the mountains of trash that nobody cares about. I would take a plastic bag just in case my dog did some business which she never does but I decided to start filling it with trash on my way home. It was VERY embarrassing. I'm walking around like a homeless person collecting recyclables and believe me it was not fun. Several years in, the difference was unbelievable. There was a line of where I made it to. I started to not care what people thought. Every once in a while there would be a new big dump and I would stop picking up because I could never catch up and that made me depressed. I realized that picking up the trash was not entirely about having it all clean, but also about me not accepting that I couldn't change things for the better. I wish you could see how beautiful my little area is now. It still has rusted out cans that have been there 30 years, but I take a little each day and we are all better for it I believe. About a year ago I was struggling with picking up a phone book that somehow got shredded just off the main road and my bag was overflowing but I knew if I didn't get it all right then that it would just be all over the place for the next several months. I was not happy. Then someone rushed out of their house and pulled their trashcan out to me. She tried to start picking stuff up but was already dressed for work so I thanked her profusely and did the manual labor. She said that she saw me all the time and really appreciated it. Wow. I started looking up and really looking at the people that were staring at me as they were driving by and saw that they were smiling. Some of us have even started waving. Everyone wants the world to be a better place and your neighbors are going to appreciate you for being the leader. I know it is not fun to look like a weirdo, but you know who you are so just do what you have to do and the good people will get you and you can forget the rest. Go get'em tiger! Report
Good luck getting those sidewalks. I think it's great that you are trying to get this done. If nothing else, you are going to meet some of your neighbors & learn a bit about your city planning/budgeting/leadership. I hope your neightbors agree with you but if not, I guess you'll gain a better understanding of why they don't agree. Report
So it's 2 years later...what happened? Hopefully you got your sidewalk! Report
There aren't any sidewalks where I live. Not sure if the city would be willing to spend money to put them in. Report
Good luck. This is something I've always wanted to do, too. You may just inspire others! Report
I hope the majority of your neighbors recognize the common good. Where I live there's a "not if it will raise the tax rate" response, not even if it amounts to less than $10 a year - for ANYTHING. Very sad. Report
I think you should go for it.
We don't have sidewalks in our neighborhood either and our streets are narrow. Not a good combination with plenty of kids in the neighborhood. Report
I wholeheartedly agree with you: sidewalks are so important to our community! I know you can do it, Jen! Good luck! Report
Good Luck - I hope you are pleasantly surprised to find all the doors you knock on agreeable and some even interested in helping you out! Report
That's great! Knocking on your neighbors' doors may lead to improvements in the neighborhood far beyond the sidewalks. Wish I could help, 'cause I LOVE door-to-door canvassing. Best wishes Report
Great Job stepping outside your comfort zone, great lesson for your kids.
Good luck, let us know how it goes. Report
Wonderful! I know you can do it, and your kids will be seeing a wonderful role model of how to work at getting things done. Even if a sidewalk is not built, at least they will have learned that they can be proactive and try to change things. Good luck! Let us know what happens. Report
You definitely have to do it, when your kids walk to school they'll be proud to walk on "mom's sidewalk" Report
Good for you! Go for it! Report
YOU CAN DO IT!!! YOU CAN DO IT!!! We're proud of you!!! Report
Go for it!!! Wonderful! Everyone will be blessed by it. Report
Good for you. I can't imagine not having sidewalks around. I hope you can get it signed and get it going. Report
You are doing a wonderful thing by taking the initiative to accomplish this! Also, as mentioned by others, you are giving an excellent lesson to your children.
Hooray for you, Jen! Report
I wish you all good things! I am so glad you wrote about doing something, rather than wishing it were done! I hope the fever catches with EVERYONE! Report
Good Luck! Report
Remember there are lots of ways reach this goal! People in our town wanted some so badly. They wrote a grand for them. Strike!! The people didn't stop! They just changed the wording.

Now we have a bike trail fully funded. SHHH Please do not let them know it is a sidewalk! Thanks so much for reminding me to be grateful for the determination of others!! You have inspired me to find away to make a difference! Report
I did it. It was difficult to go before a school board alone to request bus service, but I did it. We also had no sidewalks and a busy highway. The children were expected to walk because they lived inside a mile to the school. No sidewalk, no shoulder, and the ditches were unkept and retained water. I was seriously miffed that no one had challenged the school before then. Report
I'd sign in a heartbeat. Report