They asked me to be the first in-person interviewee in their series. We talked about the foundations of my worldview and how that worldview underscores the work I’ve been doing. (Worldview in a nutshell:
1. Cosmological Evolution;
2. Currently unknown telos of Cosmological Evolution;
Therefore: Create sustainable culture to allow our evolutionary elders (future generations) to answer questions we can’t (like what is the ultimate goal (telos) of the Universe?))
I hope you guys enjoy (both the talk and the extra leg being revealed by our shorts)!
Parts 2 and 3…
The latest sign is the seemingly out-of-nowhere demand for a historical tour of the Wiggle from Think Walks and it’s masterful emcee Joel Pomerantz. Joel, the chief organizer of the Duboce Bikeway Mural, and I have been chatting for a few months about the history of the Wiggle and various projects we each have going on. With a little push from our friend Thea Selby, we decided to set up a Walk of the Wiggle and see if anyone would show up. Did they ever! The inaugural tour was overflowing and Joel has set up additional tours for the coming weekends to accomodate the interest.
I can say without a doubt that those interested enough to show up at the DB Mural on a Sunday in the near future will not be disappointed. Joel does a wonderful job framing the history of the route and the area in different historical epochs so Wigglers can truly understand the natural history as well as the different instantiations our beloved route has seen over the years.
Addressing major events (the razing of Clinton Mound to allow the topographical clearing that we take for granted today near the Mint at the beginning of the route) to minor quixotics (how Ridley Street became Duboce Street), Joel gives a thorough history of the route (both original (indegenous) and modern versions) all with an unparalleled enthusiasm for our local history and for our beloved route in particular.
I won’t give a play by play because I don’t want to spoil the experience for others who wish to learn more about the Wiggle. I will say this though: Joel gets especially high marks for not only knowing and honoring the history of the route, but for having a keen sense that we are actively creating its layered history and that the best is yet to come.
Sign up for a Walk of the Wiggle here.]]>
For my part, I have often lamented the fact that I can’t in good conscience go about my day solely focused on the traditional challenges of adult life: finding a job that allows me to live comfortably, finding a lover and starting a family, enjoying carefree afternoons with friends, and keeping my cell phone charged. Indeed I do spend some time doing these things, but there is a constant gnaw in the back of my head that reminds me that I am not prepared, that I am not doing enough, that there isn’t much time to putz around. I know you feel it too. We can’t live the lives our parents or their parents did. However, while the current state of our world does add a nice thick layer of stress to the already complicated life of a well-adjusted adult human being, our moment affords us an incredible opportunity. Not only do we get to enjoy a world of relative ease and comfort that probably won’t be around for much longer (anybody read The Road?), but we have been chosen to navigate this hulking ship into a new era. We have something previous generations (particularly recent generations) have constantly searched for (often in vain): namely, meaningful lives.
This is not to say that those who came before us weren’t meaningful – each life and each event was necessary to bring us to our present moment. However, with the obvious notable exceptions, most people are generally not conscious of the meaning of their lives (hence the classic philosophical question). We are different. We know that the meaning of our lives is to create a sustainable culture. The reason we know this is because we know we’re in an evolutionary process that begin approximately 13.7 billion years ago. Now, we don’t know where this whole thing is headed (if you pressed me for an answer I’d suggest the reuniting of the finite and the infinite at some Omega point), but it is precisely from this not-knowing of the ultimate answers that we derive the meaning of our lives. We don’t know where the universe is heading, but we do know that if we can create a sustainable culture then the beings who come after us, whose existence we secure in this crucial hour, will have a much better perspective on these ultimate questions. Therefore, our entire existence, the meaning of our lives, is to create that sustainable culture. I’ll take a stress-filled meaningful existence over an existentially absurd life spent in cafes any day.
While we have been charged with an incredible task, it doesn’t seem so daunting when you focus on the first steps. We at the Wigg Party have identified a number of straight-forward initiatives that will really make a difference and cause some waves. If we simply do the things we’ve been discussing – help our local businesses operate in a better way, help our friends learn to make better decisions in their homes, convince our neighbors to grow some food in the space they have, and smile and love and celebrate all the way – then we will have accomplished a truly amazing thing.
We have the power to make our neighborhood the center of the world. It was this act, the creation of an axis mundi, that our ancestors held as the most sacred. To create a new center meant to create a new world, to bring order from chaos. We are creating a new way of being out of this chaotic city, this chaotic world. We too participate in the sacred, and we must never forget that.
So while we may wake each morning feeling deep within our hearts that the world we were brought into is rife with suffering and the challenges we face are immense, let us walk through each day knowing deep within our souls that the well from which we draw is deeper than ever imagined and that we truly do have the power to change it all.]]>
At the time I didn’t really understand the unmistakable reverence in her voice. It looked like any old street to me. Little did I know that one day I too would speak with the same inflection every time I mentioned the wonderful, glorious, sweat-saving Wiggle. And I challenge you to find anyone who doesn’t do the same (excluding people whose names rhyme with Knob Slanderson).
So what is the Wiggle?
The Wiggle is many things. The most straight-forward answer (if that’s your thing) is that the Wiggle is a bike route which runs from the Duboce Bikeway behind Safeway (or Church St. if you are coming from the Mission) all the way through the Panhandle ending at Golden Gate Park. In between, it “wiggles” through the Lower Haight and Western Addition neighborhoods. Here’s a map of the core Wiggle:
This is a great map of the Wiggle because you can see the topography of the area, which is kind of the whole point. The reason we all ride and love the Wiggle so is because it allows us to access our community (anything from the Lower Haight to NoPa) without having to go up and over the giant hills that are Alamo Square and Buena Vista Park. Not only do we avoid the giant hills, but we’re actually following the path of an old creek bed – just like water, bikers will find the past of least resistance.
That’s right – we didn’t start the fire on this one. While the Wiggle is today largely known as a bike route, it has a long, sacred history (which is why we’re working to get it recognized as an historic route by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors). As already mentioned, the space was originally a creek bed. Water from Twin Peaks would come down and collect in a reservoir at the base of the Panhandle; it would then wind east through the sand dunes where the Panhandle now sits and wiggle on down (going underground and popping back out depending on the seasons) to another reservoir where the Safeway on Church and Duboce now sits (the “road” through Safeway’s parking lot is still called Reservoir Dr.). The native Yelamu people had one of their seasonal villages at this site, and they no doubt followed the natural contour of the creek bed on their way to another village up in what is now the Presidio. For thousands of years before the appearance of San Franciscans proper, the Yalamu used the relative natural abundance created in this, what we now call, Channel Watershed to survive, thrive and create meaning.
As if this natural and ancient history weren’t enough, the particular site that Safeway now occupies along the route was once the site of the very first San Francisco Farmers’ Market on August 12, 1943. Here’s a really fascinating account of how this came to be from FoundSF who lifted it from the memoir of one of the key players, John Brucato.
By the third day of the new market over 50,000 people came to cut out the middle man and support their local farmer. Do you think we could ever get that kind of attendance at our local Grove St. Famers’ Market?
The Wiggle started out as a creek bed and home to the Yelamu people, hosted the first San Francisco Farmers’ Market, and is now the most revered bikeway in the city, but another chapter is about to be written. What I love best about the Wiggle is the people who ride it. On what other route do you actively scan the bikers coming the other way in hopes of seeing a friend?
More than anything, the Wiggle is the gateway to our community. As it stands today, it is an implicit rite of passage, a birth canal to our higher selves that we are willing into existence each day. The Wigg Party is here to make this implicit function explicit. We are working to make the Wiggle an historic route similar to the Barbary Coast Trail. This legislation will become the touchstone for the development of all kinds of projects along the Wiggle: edible bikeway gardens, sidewalk depavements, murals, community expression zones, and, at the very beginning of the route, a Gateway to the Wiggle. Over the next 5-10 years, we are going to transform the entire route into a 1.9 mile expression of the beauty, creativity and historicity of our community. People from all over the world will come ride the Wiggle in order to feel a part of what we are about to create here. The Wiggle will become both the inspiration and the outlet for our struggle to move to a sustainable culture in this next critical decade. We Wigglers will be bonded together by this route, our sacred route, and will know that together we can accomplish great things.
And you thought it was just a bike route…]]>