Featured Video Play Icon

Caring for the Earth

You can listen to this week’s Devotional here


Author: Caitlin Smith

From my earliest memories, cars were foundational pillars of daily life: they provided a sheltered transition from home to the outside world and a moving backdrop to my formative years. My mom’s Camry shuttled us to and from school; my dad’s Volvo did the weekly trips to church in Denver and our summer road trips. When I was 9, I started nagging my mom to select the closest possible parking spot. Calmly, my mom would retort that it was better for her health and mine if we had to do some extra walking. She never made an explicit effort to park further away, but she does now seem to find closer parking spots during my adult years than she did then. I got my driver’s permit at 15 and my driver’s license at 16. For two years, I proudly drove our dented, air-conditioner-free 1996 Dodge Grand Caravan everywhere. At 18, I left for college completed committed to Car Culture.

From 2005, when I moved to Washington D.C. for college, until 2020, when the pandemic brought me back to Colorado, I built car-free lives in Washington D.C., South Korea, the Republic of Georgia, and Fiji. Many of my college friendship were strengthened on our frequent walks and metro rides, where we commiserated over our latest exams, traded notes on the latest plots twist in the television show Lost, and compared stories about upcoming dates or ongoing relationships. In South Korea, Georgia, and Fiji, non-car transport facilitated my cultural immersion. On public transport in South Korea and Georgia, I learned to communicate and assimilate. I learned to read the letters and words of stops, to articulate correct pronunciation and appropriate responses. In South Korea, I grew comfortable automatically deferring to my elders and standing in a perfect line on the subway while facing those seated a foot away. In Georgia, I learned to willingly accept rides from strangers, to think in loosely scheduled times, and that vans technically can be comfortable without hole-free floors or bolted chairs. In Fiji, my daily walks were serenated with cheery Bulas (Hellos!), rustling palm trees, and chirping birds. For 6 years in D.C., my aqua-blue Trek centered me: through rainstorms, arctic freezes, and swampy summers; through traffic jams, frantic delivery drivers, and angry taxis; and through unimaginable jubilation, heartbreak, and transformation. Since returning to Colorado, I find myself grieving these car-free years and struggling to accept that a private car can do little to replicate such diffuse and enriching connections to my surroundings.

As a small step away from our car-intense culture and to raise awareness about our climate impact (private transport accounts for 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions), First Congregational’s Climate Action Team is organizing a Bike! Hike! Bus! Plus! Event on April 23rd (Earth Day). We are encouraging everyone to use something other than a private car (just you and your family) to attend the 10:30 service. CAT members are ready to advise on logistics: we have Zip Code Captains on standby to arrange communications about carpools. We recently had the city install new bike racks along Pine Street and will have security on the Plaza to watch all bikes (including electric ones) that arrive; we have experienced RTD riders who can advise on bus routes and logistics; and we have avid walkers who would love some company. As it is Boulder, tubing also seems like an opportunistic option for any adrenaline junkies. We’ll be at coffee hours on April 2 and 16 to answer questions. I can also answer questions by email. We’re excited for you to join us!


Leave Comment