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Doing it right: Davidson …

I had a couple of hours to kill the other day up in Davidson, North Carolina. This college town is about a 20 minute drive north of Charlotte on I-77. Bear right at exit 30 and go east, cross the railroad tracks and turn right at the light and you’re there. Don’t dare exceed 25 MPH or the local police will nab you. I know this.

The town is home to Davidson College and it’s a locale that prides itself on bike lanes, pedestrian-friendly crossings and sidewalks – and by all appearances, cleanliness.

While strolling up and down the main street, some of my attention was diverted to the sidewalk and curbs. It’s a habitual thing; looking for litter and such.

But there was nothing to be found. Literally nothing. There were no cast off bottles, no empty cigarette packs, no fast food cups.

These monuments to cleanliness are every few yards along the sidewalks in downtown Davidson. These aren't there as simple reminders; passersby actually use them.

These monuments to cleanliness are every few yards along the sidewalks in downtown Davidson. These aren’t there as simple reminders; passersby actually use them.

Yeah, I’m judging an entire exurb based on walking along a few blocks smack in the center of town. But holy smokes was it impressive. There must be some sort of civic pride in action; there are recycle bins seemingly every 20 yards. People obviously put those to good use.

I’ve passed judgement before on the litter sensibilities of other cities I’ve visited (St. Paul, MN, Chicago, Miami, Omaha, Portland, OR, et all) and as of this writing Davidson has earned the highest marks for the cleanest byways. Davidson is doing it right.

About Dave Bradley (264 Articles)
I was a writer by trade so one would think letters would come easily for me. It is so now, but wasn't always that way. Indeed, the first letter was written the Monday after Ellen started her freshman year in college. For years I've wondered - with no good answers - why I swiveled my office chair toward my computer screen to fire up a word processing document for that first letter. I just don't know. I just did. Perhaps it was the angst of separation or wanting to say things that had gone unsaid at that moment when we parted ways in front of her college dormitory. What was a one-off became habitual. When her brother Reid enrolled in the same college, his name was added to the salutation line. They were kids then and are adults now. No matter. The letter writing habit remains so today. I live in Brevard, North Carolina. I'm well away from where they live and don't see them nearly as often as I'd like. That's why letters, at least to me, fill the void of distance. The pages give me something to say and the space to say it. There is no assurance they read the letters; indeed, I have never asked if they do so. With the pace of their busy lives who could blame them for letting a letter sit unopened? Over time, it has dawned on me that the letters are both communicative - and cathartic. By nature, letters are about the writer; the writer can only write about their situation. Perhaps that is as it should be. It's all about the here and now from one person's perspective.

2 Comments on Doing it right: Davidson …

  1. In the past year I have visited both San Francisco and Toronto, both very large, very busy and modern cities. Regarding cleanliness on the streets and sidewalks the contrast between the two is remarkable. For my sensibility the allure and beauty of San Francisco of a couple of decades ago has been supplanted by endless trash on the streets and sidewalks. In contrast, one can walk blocks in central Toronto without noticing even a single cigarette butt. I see this as more a difference in the community pride and caring of the citizens than any organized effort by the municipality. I suspect the same is so in beautiful, clean Davidson.

    • Jim: Thanks so much for this. Keep it coming. I appreciate that you remain astute about the issue; but why is it that north of the border things are neat and tidy? Something is amiss down here.

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