Reflections on Walk #18, Lawless Elementary through Highway City. It was a beautiful Saturday morning, and the neighborhood around Lawless Elementary is nice with sounds of birds, lawn mowers, dogs barking. A few people out doing their own yard work. Most houses were well kept but a few clearly neglected, empty, and yards all brown and dead. Just out of the neighborhood, we walked along the canal, a dusty, dry road along a ‘dry as a bone’ canal. We could see the back fences of backyards, and peek in to see dry back yards and dusty play equipment. Graffit on the back of the fences. A couple of spots along the canal had evidence of someone living/sleeping. Near Golden State Highway, we walked by ‘homes’ people created with quilts, cardboard, and mixture of barriers inside big shrubs. We didn’t disturb them, but it seems they were sleeping in the shrub. Since the canal was completely dry, we walked on the canal floor under Golden State Highway. Evidence that others had been under here as well. Across the tracks and under Golden State Highway, we entered highway city. I (Lori) had never been there. Every home is unique, mostly tiny homes on large lots. No sidewalks A couple of churches in this 3 x 4 street neighborhood. The sounds of highway 99 ever present. Dogs barked within full-perimeter fences. Not many people out this morning. Highway City is so clearly different from the neighborhood around Lawless Elementary just a 15 minute way away. Leaving the neighborhood, we walked through the parking lot of Motel 6 and met motorcycle club members from Oakland. Most of the bikers were african american men. All greeted us warmly, and we welcomed them to Fresno. Their tagline: inspired by haters. We walked through small industrial park, along nicely landscaped apartment complexes, and back into the Lawless school neighborhood. We couldn’t help notice the enormous electrical towers that stood guard over the entire neighborhood.Walkers discussed the many people whose entire lives revolve around these areas near Hwy 99. A full range of situations: well-kept two-story home near school, apartment complexes with separate garages, old homes with character and much-needed repairs, and even cardboard and shopping cart homes in a shrub.These are our sisters and brothers who occupy the shared space of Fresno with us. By seeing where they live, walking where they walk, we experience our shared humanity and feel reconciled. No judgement, no blame.
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