Sunday Times

This morning, the L.A. Times ran a piece on “A Daring L.A. Vacation.”  The article was on a family that vacations to Los Angeles from northern California.  The Vogels trek to the city for the usual–the La Brea tar pits, the Santa Monica Pier, and Olvera Street.

So what made it so shocking, so headline-worthy, so jaw-dropping, so daring?

Public transportation.

The crux of the article was the not-so-usual manner of travel the Vogel family used.

Personally, I now hope the Vogels will invite me to join them on their next trip.  If it’s L.A., we can swap tips on the Metro.  If they try somewhere else, I want to be along for the ride.  They explored more of the city in two days than many of us have all summer.

Our office has long used a training experience called the URT–Urban Reality Tour–with our students during their first week back.  The premise is simple.  They start on our main campus and are given a packet with all they need for the day.  As a traveling group, they have to get to an appointment in the Santa Monica area, then to lunch at Grand Central Market, then a second meeting downtown.

The two appointments are with non-profit organizations who serve the community, and the students are asked to use that time to learn about what they do.  Throughout the day, we ask them to be attentive to the city, to what they see, hear, and smell.  Each group, seven in all, has a unique set of meetings, so that the next day they share their own experiences with one another.

The catch?  No cars.

Malibu to Skid Row on public transit only.

Something about public transportation in L.A. changes the whole way you see the city.  There are things about this place that you or I will never know if we only drive to the Bowl and back for summer concerts.  And that would be a shame, I think.

In church-y circles we talk a lot about the incarnation–God coming down to daringly be a human alongside of us.  We talk about being incarnational ourselves–going out to our neighbors, coworkers, and community in a way that emulates what Jesus did for us.  I love the URT because it is one way our students begin to approach service incarnationally.

Have you taken public transit through L.A.?  What’d you think?  Or if you’re in another city, do you find the transportation system represents a whole other side of things?  Most importantly, did you find a good spot to eat that you can share?

I’ll start.  Sarita’s Pupuseria in Grand Central Market is wonderful.

4 thoughts on “Sunday Times

  1. Pingback: The Fourth « Meredith Miller

  2. As a sophomore in HS my whole history class went to LA on the metrolink…it was amazing! It was the first time I really saw LA “from the ground” as opposed to just driving through it.

    We ate at Phillipe’s, but Grand Central is my favorite, too, because it has everything! I remember having the best peanut butter & chocolate fudge there. 🙂

    Let’s go sometime in the near future…I have a list of things I wanna do & see. And I’ve never used the Metro!!

  3. Mer, this is so good. And SO true. I find that we can miss out on a lot simply because we protect ourselves inside the comfort of our own car. Living this past year car-free has forced me to not only take public transportation daily, but also helped me to see that the ability to move and transport yourself quickly and efficiently is a luxury. Many of your daily choices change when your schedule revolves around where the bus does or doesn’t go.

    • Thank you, Michelle. Yes, the schedule side of public transportation is a whole thing in itself. Every time we run the URT, somebody gets off schedule for a bus that breaks down or runs late. They are nearly always a bit stunned. I think they feel a bit like modern Los Angeles has failed them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s