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Here’s the story of how Walter, (who is white, 70s), my solar house Asheville Airbnb host, could tell me where all the Asheville public housing developments are ---

One day, sharing the kitchen, Walter asked me casually what I was working on.

I told Walter that I was going to research if there were any public housing developments near the Story Parlor, the space that had agreed to host the 11/6 pop-up event I was shaping.

"Well, that’s easy," Walter said, "because I can tell you ! "

"Oh, yeah ?! " I said, surprised.

Then I remembered --- Walter drives for a car service.

Walter listed all the housing developments that ended up on the outreach map !

Walter told me, "I drive a lot of workers home when they get off late at night. Many of my fellow drivers don’t take public housing calls. Me, never had any problems. And to tell you the truth, it’s good for me if I get those calls ! Because the workers I drive home to public housing are some of my best tippers ! They appreciate that I’m working too, and they know a lot of drivers won’t take them. "



For the 11/6, 1-4pm pop-up Asheville community bridging event I'm putting out a call on Next Door for volunteer drivers who can pick up residents from public housing, bring them to the event and then drive them home.

I'm guessing many public housing residents don't have cars, and if there is one in a household

it's shared by many. Also I would imagine few have ever been to the Story Parlor.

Some might not have even been in that part of town, except passing through in a bus or car.

Just like a lot of residents from other areas have not been into public housing.

It's common when people have only heard passing references to an area of town they have never been to and know no one there, for them to be apprehensive about going into something / some place so totally new.

And then if you don't drive, there's how long you'll have to wait for buses, to and fro.

Or how much a car service will cost, to and fro.

I have no idea if my request for volunteer drivers will get any response. But maybe, at least, it will cause people with cars and ample free time to go to events and meetings, to realize that maybe some people don't ever show because of what a huge effort / cost is involved. Not because they aren't interested. Not because they don't want to meet you.

I don't think drivers have any idea how hard / exhausting / uncertain life is when you have to depend on public transportation --- living in a place like Asheville.

Or even here in Charlotte, where I'm staying at an airbnb that is seven miles out from the heart of the city. Before moving here, I checked bus schedules, and saw I could get a bus up to 10pm at night from where I was staying to those city areas I wanted to explore. One way could take over an hour, but for the present I'm on no schedule. Riding by bus also gives me a different view and feel of the city. I definitely would get a glimpse of working-class life.

Before I took my first ride 'into town' I looked up bus travel times with google maps, and timed going to the bus stop two blocks away so I'd arrive 15 minutes before the bus. When I got to the stop I looked at the schedule posted on the pole --- it differed by 20 minutes from the maps time. But neither of the times mattered because one hour later I was still waiting for the bus ! By then I'd downloaded the Charlotte's CATS bus app -- but that didn't matter either.

The bus came when it came. I asked the driver, how late can I get a bus coming back. She told me I should start back by "7pm, maybe". "But the bus is supposed to go until 10pm ! ",

I said. She said, "We're missing a lot of drivers. It's just what it it." That night I started back at 7:30pm -- and didn't get home until 10pm ! I waited for 90 minutes in the dark at the stop where I was to pick up the connecting bus. I was tempted to spend on a car service,

but I waited, to see.

The next day when a friend (who drives) talked about a job interview he'd had -- to oversee airport employees who took care of travelers needing wheelchairs -- he said it was mentioned there were a number of staff who were often late to work. My friend wondered if that showed they didn't care about their jobs. My response --- "Do they take the bus !!!!!!"




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