Sarah Jane Caban is the Editor of the My Wonderful World Blog. She initiated the Geography Awareness Week Blog-a-thon in November, 2008, and she has been writing and editing for the blog since June 2007.
Working in geography education, it’s my job to think about geography 40 hours a week. But the reality is I think about it more than that…probably more than I’d like to admit. I often find myself contemplating the geography of relatively mundane activities, and I never cease to be amazed by how relevant geography is to just about every aspect of life.
For a while now, I’ve had the idea to document the geography of my commute to work in a blog post. I figure: What better occasion than Geography Awareness Week?! I hope that by showing how intimately involved geography is in a small portion of my daily life, readers will be compelled to consider the simple and more complex geographic connections in their own lives.
When I sat down to start writing, I surprised even myself with the depth of geographic material. So, I’m going to break my post into two installments. Here goes!
Part 1: Apartment to Metro
During my commute to work, I have to walk outside for about 15 minutes–5 minutes to the Metro from my apartment, and 10 minutes from the Farragut West Metro stop to National Geographic. I listen to the morning weather report in order to be prepared for the elements I will encounter in the micro-climate of Washington, D.C: boots/umbrella if rainy, sunglasses, appropriate outerwear, etc. This is an aspect of physical geography.
I walk about 3 minutes from my apartment to Pennsylvania Avenue. I always cross over the island in the middle of the road, rather than walking to the crosswalk–J-walking is a much more direct path to the metro than using the crosswalk is! I’m not alone: The grass is worn from so many commuters traversing it, so there are sections of bare dirt. When it’s dry and I’m wearing high heels, I stick to the hard dirt so that I don’t sink into the grass (ladies, I know you can relate). When it’s rainy and I’m wearing boots, I switch over to the grass, since the dirt very quickly turns into mud (physical geography).
At the top of the metro escalators, there are two African-American women who hand out free newspapers every day. One distributes the Metro, the other the Examiner. I usually hesitate to take one, concerned about wasting vital natural resources, even though there are recycling receptacles available. If I do, I get the Metro, since it the less politically conservative of the papers. In this extremely liberal city, I see relatively few commuters reading the Examiner, I’d guess the breakdown is about 80-20 (political geography). Before the women began handing out papers, there was a male newspaper distributer who was extremely vocal and friendly; his enthusiastic daily greetings were a highlight of my mornings. Then, he disappeared; I heard he got sick. In this city with one of the highest rates of AIDS in the world, I wonder if that disease could have been culprit (medical geography).