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Dallas Man Writes Letter to One of the World's Foremost Urbanists, Social Media Magic Ensues

The letter.
The letter.

After reading Jeff Speck's book Walkable City, Brian Reinhart had to respond. The book spoke to the issues he and his friends faced in Dallas so clearly, outlining many of the problems they've had and the aspirations they have. He wanted to give Speck "an update on the lay of the urban land in Dallas."

With all the discussion that's occurred over the summer about the state of urbanism in Dallas -- whether at the New Cities Conference, the U.S. Conference of Mayors or even last week's "Connecting Dallas Beyond the Automobile" panel -- the letter provides an interesting snapshot of how things are for at least one man who is really giving Dallas a go as if it were what he wishes it was.

Speck shared the letter via his Twitter account, because, he tweeted, "it deserve[d] to be published."

"I was moved to share the letter -- and a bit trepidatiously, not having permission -- because it was one of those little collections of particulars that powerfully communicate grand universal themes," he says.

The letter describes the struggles involved in trying to make the most of the few public transit and walkable options Dallas provides. Reinhart is able to ride the train to his job at Irving's North Lake College, for instance, but he has to walk through a half-mile of parking lots to get from North Lake's train station to his workplace. He notes he has a friend who recently moved to Dallas who still hasn't purchased a car. Her friends have started a pool to guess the date she'll crack.

"The personal struggles of Brian and his friends, the daily inconveniences and insults -- and injuries -- thrust upon them by their auto-centric landscape put a human face on the theoretical arguments we planners make every day, and made them more real," Speck says.

Despite the difficulties that remain, Reinhart is hopeful that urban issues are beginning to be acknowledged in Dallas.

"There's more awareness. Now there are starting to be token steps, little things being conceded to us and as the little things go the bigger things will follow," he says.

Until they do, he, and others like him, will continue to do what the can, Reinhart says in the letter.

"It's like a challenge -- an act of subversion, rebellion. A while back I walked four miles each way to the movies." Reinhart says. "Why walk across Dallas? Why did that guy climb Everest?"


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