Blog: Nancy Shore

Nancy Shore is the Director of Ann Arbor’s getDowntown program. A graduate of U-M (M.S. Social Work in Community Organizing), she is resident of Ann Arbor and a committed advocate for sustainable transportation. Nancy will be blogging about why Curb Your Car Month matters, the need for public transportation in SE Michigan and more.

Post No. 1

I suppose the first post I write should explain a little about me and how I got here.

But before I do, remember that it’s Curb Your CarMonth! Check out all of the events and other fun here:

So now to my story. Like many Ann Arborites, I am not actually from Ann Arbor. I’m from suburban Maryland. Montgomery Village to be exact. And oddly enough, my High School mascot was the Wolverine. So maybe it was fate that brought me here.

When I graduated from High School I was ready to get out. And so I went to Grinnell Collegein Iowa. And it was there that I met my husband,Chuck.  We later moved to Madison, WI for a summer, then to Washington D.C.and then to Ann Arbor. A lot of people told me that Ann Arbor was a lot like Madison (and it is . . . sort of).

My husband and I knew absolutely no one when we moved here. And I got a job at Zingerman’s Deli, where I worked for a year. But one of the reasons we moved to Ann Arbor was because I wanted to get my graduate degree in Social Work. And the University of Michigan has the top school in the country for Social Work.  So I applied and was accepted and thought I would become a therapist of some sort, kind of like my mom and dad.

But after talking to a professor during an open house I realized that what I was really interested in was community. Or rather, bringing different people in the community together to bring about positive change.

And I think Ann Arbor really influenced my decision to changedirections.  You see, I grew up in the suburbs. We hung out at the mall and shopped at chain stores. We drove everywhere because it was a "planned community"; meaning that houses and stores shall not mix.

Ann Arbor was one of the first places I’ve lived where I ever felt a real sense of community. Ann Arbor has its own character, its own culture and vibe. There are so many things that make this place unique. And to me, there is something very important about that, because it makes you care aboutwhere you live. And when you care, you actually want to make the community even better. And I would extend my sense of community tomore than just Ann Arbor. I’ve worked and hung out in Ypsi. I’ve biked to get Cider and Donuts in Dexter. I’ve worked in Chelsea and eaten at the Common Grill.

As you will read in my future posts, I think a major part of a good community is the ability to use sustainable transportation to get youwhere you want to go. Ann Arbor is so great because you can walk,bike and bus to work, or to downtown. Ann Arbor is great because it has bike lanes and an excellent bus system. And while all of it could get better, having all of these choices definitely makes for a better place to live.

A big reason why walking, bike and busing are important is that when you are walking around your community, or hopping on the bus, you areright up close and personal with lots of different people. Driving around in a car on a highway is noway to experience any community.

I love when I walk to work and see someone I know and canactually stop and talk to them. The other day, I randomly ran into a friend in downtown Ann Arbor. We later met up at Melange for some drinks. How cool is that?  And if I had just jumped into my car and drove home, I never would have seen her and had that experience. On the bus, I’ve run into the owner of Suwannee Springs, a manager from Ten Thousand Villages, and an employee at Bennett Optometry. If I would have chosen to drive instead, I wouldn’t have interacted with any of those folks.

Can you see how important this is? If we begin to ignore the world around us, it slowly falls into disrepair out of neglect. We need to have places where we come face to face with the people in our community. We need a way for people toget around without a car so that all kinds of people can live in ourcommunity. I believe that public transportation is a public good and should be valued as much as we value ourcars and private homes.

I’ve been at the getDowntown Program since July and have enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. I live close enough to walk, bike and bus to work. I want to work to bring sustainable transportation to Ann Arbor and points beyond. 

And I hope you can help me do it.