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May 28, 2000

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What was the cause of this foam in Factoria condo parking lot puddle? The enormous clouds were not quite big enough to fill the sky. Sarah's thesis concerns pedestrian connectivity in the Seattle suburb Factoria. Aerial photographs that are part of her research have become the subject of her painting-in-progress. On it, a fleck of black paint represents a single vehicle, which could have been us approaching our field base in rented Flexcar. The flower in reused sugar shaker vase was nice, but even the stay-in orders were given paper cups at Factoria Starbucks. As at any other U.S. restaurant, everybody had their own table. The woman next to ours was surprised her classmates were becoming grandparents but proud to be putting together a high school reunion book exposing the where-they-are-nows of the who-they-were-thens. The weather was nice but no one sat outside. Why would they when the only thing to look at was a parking lot--a field full of greasy beasts waiting to stampede. Behind the stripmall was a pedestrian path, but to get from the office complex to the grammar school we had to scrabble up a weedy slope and hop a fence. It was either that or walk a mile around to get at what plus some steps and minus the fence would have been easy to access. In Factoria, curved streets end in cul de sacs, high fences separate the almost identical housing complexes of competing developers, and NO PEDESTRIAN ACCESS signs pop up where sidewalks abruptly end. All of which makes walking inconvenient, if not impossible. People accept it because gas is cheap and parking is free. But what about community? An army might travel on its stomach, but a neighborhood thrives on its feet.
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