Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pulled from the local news

A few local news articles to point your attention to, both in the Press-Enterprise.
First off, this article points to Riverside's Alternative Christmas fair. It's still going on at the time of posting, for the next 10 minutes. :) The Fair provides guests with the opportunity to purchase fair-trade gifts from developing nations, and to make donations in honor of a friend or relative. Had I known about it sometime before it started, I'd've been there. I'm personally making this holiday season a "buy-nothing" holiday, but for those of us who just can't get over the annual tradition of gift-giving, or those who want to send a bit of spendable holiday cheer overseas, it sounds like you've got your place. The Fair apparently has happened the first Sunday in December for longer than I've been alive, so I can say with some confidence it'll be there next year.
It is held at the First Christian Church at Jurupa and Brockton, off of the 12 and 14, and a short walk from the 1, 13, 15 and 20.

Second, there is this piece on a driver who got stuck on the train tracks at Jurupa (near the county park, between Grand and Fremont). Apparently, she was driving through the temporary construction detour, got "disoriented", and turned onto the railway tracks. (Personally, I've driven through that stretch many, many times and never mistook the two, but maybe she's new to the area...) Anyway, thankfully nobody was hurt, but her car was totalled by Metrolink #412 heading home. While the driver is glad nobody was hurt, her commentary on her obliterated auto sheds some light on our car culture.

Jimenez said she was able to afford only liability insurance for the car. She said she worked two jobs while pregnant and saved every penny to be able to pay cash for the car.

"I knew I wouldn't be able to make car payments after I had the baby," she said. "It's horrible. I lost everything I worked for."

Not to put too fine a point on it, but her little Civic was "everything [she] worked for." She saved up every penny she had, working two jobs while pregnant, to buy... a car. Automobile expenses take a heavy toll on our society, especially those among us with lower incomes. Buying a car, paying for insurance, repairing it, putting gas in it, and keeping it maintained, insured and registered takes up nearly 17% of the average household's income- more than food and health care combined. And the worse off you are, the worse it gets. Cheaper, used cars tend to need more maintenance and repair, and get worse fuel mileage. But Ms. Jimenez felt she *had* to work two jobs while carrying her baby, felt she *had* to buy a car, because without it she'll be trapped. She lives in Pedley, where bus service is even more anemic than here in the city. After this accident, she'll be doomed to begging for rides, low service frequencies, long waits for transfers, and that trapped feeling most Americans get when they know they simply can't get home on their own.

And it is precisely that that we must stop. We must work together as a city, as a region, and as a nation to make sure that, when people's cars break down, get reposessed or even get run over by a train, they can still live life without being dependent on the kindness of other people's gas guzzlers.


browne said...

and you know what else sucks? many low income jobs the employers have the nerve to ask, "do you have a car?" i think that question should be illegal for a job that has nothing to do with pizza delivery.

JN said...

Every time I've been asked, the question has been "do you have reliable transportation?", but I'm sure that if you say "Of course, I ride the bus" they look down their nose a fair distance.