Welcome to Day 27 of HopeSpeaks: 30 Stories in 30 Days.  Learn more about the HopeSpeaks campaign and submit your story here!   See all HopeSpeaks stories here!

By Erin Gancer:

Pushing a stroller down a Detroit sidewalk is not much different than driving a car down a Michigan road —  it can get a little bumpy.  Fortunately, the jostling soothed my tiny rider to sleep, and the crisp air and warm sun refreshed this mother who had been up all night.

I only had to get to the end of my street to notice there was something different.

How many days, I wondered, had it been since I left the house for something other than a quick errand?  This morning I was not in my car, and I was not in the street. Today I was on a sidewalk, and it welcomed me. Of course the route was familiar: a neighborhood I had lived in for a few years and driven through daily; homes that repeat on and on and on down to the horizon, save a vacant lot or two…or ten.

Still, why had I not noticed how the sun could create such patterns as it beamed through color-changed leaves? And there were birds! Not pigeons, but nice birds, chirping and flying.  And the flowers…were there always flowers here?

I rounded a corner and the wind carried a distant hum of a lawn mower with its scent of two-stroke engine and freshly cut grass. Women with veiled faces veiled sat on porches and watched as their children played in their postage stamp front yards. Another walker approached, and I said hello. The response was in a tongue I don’t understand, but I understood the smile.

Everything was so different here on the sidewalk.  The magical, uneven sidewalk.  Meanwhile, streets move at the speed of the world.  It’s easy to drive down the street with only your destination in mind, only your cares and worries, only your shopping lists.

But sidewalks move at the speed of life. Real life. Real fresh-perspective-new-beginnings-beautiful life.

From my car I had missed the life being lived all around me for years. I was moving too fast. Now as I walked, struggling against the ruts with plastic stroller wheels, I could see what I had been missing.

Do you move through your city too fast?  When was the last time you let a sidewalk give you a slow tour of all the life you’ve been driving by? If you’re where I am, you’ll see urban gardens and new businesses being born. Students and suits shuffling through a crosswalk. Church bells ringing in the distance.  And you’ll notice that the sky is just as blue in Detroit as it is in the suburbs.

As you walk down the sidewalk, you’ll see life — HOPE — everywhere!  Do yourself a favor and check out the view.

6 Responses to “Day 27: Hope on the Sidewalk”

  1. Things really are so different when you stop and look around. There IS life everywhere. Those who have no hope for Detroit have probably never opened their eyes to the city!

  2. Shirley Bickerstaff says:

    What a lovely picture your story paints Erin, so true! Detroit is such a quirky, crazy little town. It makes all the difference when we slow down and take in the splendor. Detroit HAS splenor! Great post Erin!!!

  3. I need to slow down more often and take the time to look around me. I am grateful for our life here in the city!

  4. So true…you gotta stop and look around sometimes. it’s so easy to miss the awesome things all around us when we’re rushing everywhere. Great post!

  5. Yea! I definitely spend too much time in my car. I have the best interactions when I SLOW DOWN.

  6. Guillemin, who was 75 when he died in his sleep in his Newton home Monday morning, was Sidewalk Sam to the thousands who had watched him work since the early 1970s and uncounted others who encountered the chalk and painted art he created throughout Boston. On that October day, he completed his first public drawing since falling 21 months earlier while working atop the roof of his home, an accident that paralyzed his legs.

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