Friday, September 18, 2009
Cheers to the Pathways Committee
Before reading “Carlisle’s pathway project turns a corner “ by Anne Marie Brako in last week’s Mosquito (September 11, 2009) it was apparent to many of us in the community, who since 2003 have been following the construction of pathways on Carlisle’s major roads, that the pathway project has been a resounding success.
Over the summer, on a warm sunny day, there was a steady stream of walkers heading down Bedford Road, past the library and the post office, onto the footpath bordering the Shohets’ pasture, and finally ending up at the Kimballs Ice Cream Stand for that special summer treat.
Heading down East Street from Partridge Lane, long-time Carlisle resident and Mosquito photographer Ellen Huber has been more than pleased to be walking on the pathway, instead of driving her car, to the Gleason Public Library to take photographs of some upcoming event.
Residents of Lowell Street can make their way from the Transfer Station, past the Police Station, to a crosswalk to Ferns Country Store, on a footpath on the west side of the road that eventually leads to the asphalt footpath on Westford Street, which in turn leads past the Town Hall to the Fire Station. On Old Home Day evenings, this pathway is crowded with townsfolk heading to the Fire Station for that famous chicken barbeque supper.
The Concord Street pathway, which leads from the Town Center to Bingham Road, joins up with several important town trails – the trail off Bingham Road into the Towle Conservation Land, and the Clark Farm Trail running east to School Street.
Now with the beginning of the school year, we may see more students walking or riding their bikes to school on the pathways. The federally funded Safe Routes to School program has been working with educators to encourage children to walk or ride bikes to school. They see a long list of health benefits for those children who walk or bike to school. The Carlisle School Committee and the administration have passed out questionnaires in the classroom, asking students how they get to school. In the future, there is a plan to hold assemblies to discuss this topic.
Not only are there health benefits for young people using footpaths, but doctors are constantly advising senior citizens to get out there two or three times a week for a brisk one- or two-mile walk. Finally, seniors who live on or near major roads near the Town Center have a safe place to walk for that needed exercise.
Pedestrian/Bike Safety (Pathways) Committee Chair Deb Belanger had an interesting story to tell. A parent stopped her to say Carlisle pathways changed her family’s life. “My kids can stay at school longer; can go to each others’ homes; I’m not navigating every play-date; kids are getting together spontaneously. We had planned to move, but now we are staying.”
Belanger said it was many people working together. “It was different boards, different people, all who had to work together and had to make compromises to accomplish Phase I of the footpath project. Our mission has been accomplished! Carlisle has always been a town of vision with open space, good schools, quality of life and now we have footpaths – and people are using them!” So kudos to Deb and her committee, as well as Superintendent of Public Works Gary Davis who built the fine paths that now grace our town. We look forward to Phase II and completion of the pathway network. ∆
The academic matrix: new beginnings
I have always thought of September as the real New Year, not January 1. Whether or not we are actually returning to school ourselves, we come back from summer vacations and airy summer mentality to resume our structured lives for another season, looking forward to the crisp, sparkling autumn days, the turning of the leaves in New England and the fresh experiences that the year will bring our way. The template of the academic calendar seems to define the shape of my thinking, my work schedule, my holidays, my activities and even my time with my family. Like the student in a brand new classroom, I expect changes, new discoveries and challenges: a more substantive program. Carlisle schoolchildren have probably scuffed those brand-new school shoes and dulled those freshly sharpened pencils a little already. And so have I.
My husband and I started the academic matrix early this year, entering a demanding new grade level, if your will, in our lives. By August 1, we had added to our home syllabus Boomerang 101, our youngest child, who has decided to settle in the Boston area. He brought with him his new fiancée, who had already landed a job in the city. Aside from a little crowding in the kitchen in the mornings, the home atmosphere has transformed into something like that of an apartment building – with hugs. The pair of them exist suspended between the individual lives they left in California and the new life they will soon start together here in the east, trying to maintain as much normalcy as they can while they are with us. We are parents, hosts, landlords: a triple-ball juggle that requires airing out some mothballed social skills and learning how to provide warmth and comfort in a family circle of adults. By August 5, we were also grandparents, as our daughter and son-in-law presented us with a beautiful baby girl. Grandparenting 101 adds another ball to juggle, a different level of patience, composure, and love. As grandparents, we have experience with the baby’s needs, and can look forward to providing our little granddaughter with love and support, complementary to that of her parents and more removed, but still familiar. The new challenge for us is exploring a different pathway of love and care for her parents as they embark on Parenting 101.
So the academic matrix remains: we study new subjects, take new tests, and, hopefully, do well in our courses. We draw on skills we learned in previous years from former teachers and from our own experience. We connect different disciplines to make us better-rounded and stronger students of life, approaching the new year with more delight and anticipation than we have felt before. We are scuffing our school-of-life shoes, testing their fit and resilience from a new perspective, wielding our figurative pencils to record what we learn and taking on material of the greatest intensity, relevance and reward. It is truly a brand new year.
© 2009 The