Underpass

Yesterday I was driving up I5 here and as I started to go from I5 Northbound to the Madison exits I saw a guy very nonchalantly pushing a shopping cart along the side of the off-ramp against traffic. I know that people sometimes stay under the overpasses around the intersection of 5 and 90 because it’s a) covered from the rain and b) it’s extremely unlikely that anyone will come in there bother them. However when I saw this guy I looked to my right, underneath where the traffic from I90 merges onto I5 I saw about 6 tents and a few other people sitting under the overpass around what looked like a cookstove. It made me realize people aren’t just staying there for a night or two, they’re really camped in there, they’re living there. There is a main homeless camp called “Nickelsville” nearby that’s accessible from streets but this isn’t nearly that large or easy to access, it’s here, up in between parts of the elevated highway: Screen-Shot-2015-09-27-at-11.40.43 This location is only accessible by crossing lanes of I5 or I90 on foot. It looked about 30 feet long and about 10 feet wide and was in between the merging lanes of I-5 and I-90. It’s basically a tiny shanty-town delineated by jersey-barriers. So I had a few thoughts. First, (and this one I have quite a bit, to be fair) is this the new normal in one of the most affluent cities in one of the most affluent countries? Second, this is a very dangerous and environmentally stressful way to live. Not just hang out for a night or two, it seems like people are just living there. They basically live in a very specialized environment and like any specialized environment it presents some very specialized needs for its users and those specialized needs have highly specialized design solutions to them. Or could have highly specialized design solutions to them because while I’m not sure how much of the apparel or outdoor equipment design industry is focused on the transient population, I’m guessing it’s very few. It reminded me of this: 0067_351-640x422 which I saw in 2005 I was teaching at art school that made me think “I don’t think I’m as interested in art as I am in design”. And 10 years later here I am, still wondering about the same things and with perhaps even fewer answers than when I began.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *