My name is Leslie Wolcott, and I am a transitaholic. I teach a class in UCF’s Writing and Rhetoric department called Rhetoric and Civic Engagement. It’s the required course for students earning a certificate or minor in Rhetoric and Writing.
While we study the ideas around civic engagement for the past, oh, several thousand years, we also want students to get out and do engagement work themselves. A previous class of mine had a lot of success looking at transportation successes and challenges here at UCF. Their work still brings responses from those at UCF and beyond, and can be seen at ucfengaged.wordpress.com.
Apparently, word got around to the Transit Interpretation Project folks—particularly to David Thomas Moran, also a UCF graduate student—about our classwork. He, Patrick Greene and I talked about how we might get undergraduates at UCF to participate in TrIP. David and Patrick came and presented the project to my spring 2014 Civic Engagement class, and they were interested in participating.
So, the students in the class all went out and experienced public transit, most of them via LYNX. Some were more enthusiastic about riding the bus than others. Some felt safe; some had some good reasons not to. Some used transit to acquire consumables like beer and bear claws; others discovered the Drunken Monkey coffee shop, went to a movie, or visited with friends. I don’t want to offer too many spoilers here, though—you’ll have to read them when they are published!
Next, the students in the class plan to put their experiences onto an interactive map. Particularly, they’re interested in showing the distances people have to travel to get on to the bus in the first place, and they wonder if a map of their experiences might show strengths and weaknesses, geographically, in the experiences of those using transit in Orlando.
Nikki Namdar went to ride the bus for her project, and found out it didn’t run on Sundays in Sanford. Being a resourceful journalist, instead of giving up, she followed the story—and asked why. As a result, her story about changes to the #34 bus was published on the front page of the Sanford Herald on March 4, 2014.
You’ll see many of the students’ posts appearing at TrIP over the next few weeks, or you can find them all together at http://triptheknightfantastic.wordpress.com/.
My next adventure? I’d love to bike to UCF from downtown for work… but not alone.