Jonah Raskin: The Great Highway

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A large crowd turned out over the weekend to advocate for continued closure of the Great Highway to motor vehicles. Jonah Raskin was there.

I was with the kids at the front of the march when it began at Judah and the Great Highway, and I was at the back of the march with the bicyclists when it ended at Lincoln and the Great Highway. Before the march I was somewhere near the middle of the crowd that had gathered just below the sand dunes and about 60 seconds by foot from the ocean.

One thousand or so people had gathered to protest the scheduled opening of the Great Highway on the following day, a Monday and the start of a work week with autumn looming on the horizon. Not surprisingly, I didn’t know a single person in the crowd at the rally and on the march. I had only been living at Ocean Beach for three months and I was just getting to know the neighborhood and my neighbors. The Sunday gathering felt like a kind of rite of passage. By virtue of my participation I was part of the community, and one of many San Franciscans who want the Great Highway to remain closed to automobile traffic and to be a kind of permanent park where people walk, jog, bicycle, roller skate, skateboard and breathe the clean salty air, an essential part of life in the pandemic.

I had fallen in love with the car-free Great Highway long before the rally and march. Still the rally and march reinforced my love for the paved strip that runs parallel to the Pacific. Together, they reaffirmed my vow to drive as little as possible and wean myself from the culture of the car.

I even made a friend. Jodie Medeiros is an advocate for safe streets in San Francisco. I ambled with her and talked with her. We had something in common with one another and with the kids, parents and grandparents who want open space at the edge of the city where they can feel safe, free and independent.

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With a Perspective, I’m Jonah Raskin.

Jonah Raskin is a performance poet.