I was a new father — only two days deep into this thing called Fatherhood. Soon after we came back home with our new baby I began to feel funny. Then they sent me to the doctor and I tested positive for Influenza A. They locked me away upstairs. It was no good. I could see fear in their eyes. They quarantined me. I laid there and looked toward the west at the big water oak out the window. My mother-in-law cooked me food and left it around the corner in the hall. Knock-knock. I didn’t mind so much but the bad part was the new baby son was kept away from me. I did not want him to get sick. He was so new and small.
When I was finally allowed to go downstairs and then outdoors I realized I was a little slow in mind and body. I was a little down and thinking I had lost all my skills. I had taken a blow to my whole being.
Shortly after, I was asked to make a design to use for Streets Alive Atlanta spring event T-shirt. I thought this would be something to get me going again creatively — To wake up my senses. Like a lot of projects, I almost quit in the middle of the things. I became frustrated. Things slowed to a crawl. Late one evening I felt a breeze of inspiration blow by me. I had an idea. I quickly sketched out a few characters. I then retraced them on a a really old light table which used to be property of the EPA. I knew this would be good.
The final design is happy and really shows what Streets Alive is about — community, fun, exercise, and alternate forms of transportation.
Streets Alive is the Atlantan version of Ciclovía, a walking -biking – pogo sticking – street festival like I encountered in Bogota, Colombia last September. While these events are similar, I bet there won’t be any homemade carts with loud speakers selling used books, bicycle parts, homemade fried items or mobile phone parts. Colombian Ciclovía was authentic and beautiful even if you don’t want the fried mystery meats for sale. It was a showcase of life in a city.
I had happened upon Ciclovía while in Bogota with friends who now live in Cabbagetown, Atlanta. They own an apartment there in the neighborhood of Galerias. We had walked to breakfast on a Sunday morning and then were in search of cold pills for my aches and sneezes. In the middle of our walking journey we merged in with the street festival. The rest of the day was fun and quite an adventure. We saw all kinds of people and ways to travel without motorized assistance — it seemed like we walked for miles. We visited my friend’s brother at a flea market I bought a strangely fascinating portrait of Elvis Presley. I was told they would negotiate the deal as I, the tall red-bearded gringo would pay top dollar. We even happened upon a large crowd in the park doing some sort of dancing aerobics — a man in silver suit— others in fun costumes. I forgot about my ailments. Maybe the trip to the tienda adjacent to the flea market helped — strange versions of potato chips and Colombian beer and very lively conversations in Spanish. It was a beautiful day and a chance to see a different side of the capital city.
At the time I didn’t realize Atlanta’s Streets Alive was a descendant of the Ciclovía — but now I do. I saw many things — things I had never considered before. I enjoyed life in a bustling city at 9,000 feet in elevation. I ate amazing foods. I even missed seeing Papa Francisco (the Pope) by just a few seconds as his procession whipped around the corner.
Atlanta is a mere child when compared to Bogota — but we all grow up sometime. When you really think it over, you realize people all around the world just want to have a sunny-smiley-day and a good tasty breakfast and to pet a dog on the head. We all want to be respected and the chance to have nice life — time to share with those we love and be happy. Hopefully events like Streets Alive and Ciclovía can give us another reason to do so.
I will try to be happy if you will too.
see you soon,
Kyle BlackCatTips Brooks