There’s been (more than) a tad of whingeing from people living here that Highland Park is not walkable - a notion I reject. Sidewalks abound and with the exception of a few thoroughfares and cut-throughs, there’s generally not much car traffic to pollute a walk with engine noise and exhaust. Walkin’ Highland Park is a far cry from walkin’ Route 9. For those who think we are not a walkable neighborhood, the problem may be that there isn’t a lot of commercial type activity within the neighborhood boundaries to walk to but I also take exception to the idea that a walk requires a destination. A walk is a destination unto itself and there is no predicting what adventure may befall (or not) the spontaneous or habitual walker.
Adventure or not, walking for walking’s sake is a great idea. And Highland Park is a great place to do it.
“HP is unique in that way because it is one of the only places in the city where you can actually walk in the middle of the street and not worry about not getting run over. That’s the charm of the neighborhood,” says lifelong HP resident and sustainability strategist Scotland Willis.
Great place, good walking and yet, dog walkers, car-free teens, and guys heading to Fernandez for liquid refreshment aside, I don’t run into many walkers when I’m perambulating or riding. Except for this guy.
First thing in the morning, last thing at night: Marvin Sealey's walkin’. Sometimes, fast, sometimes slow, his distinctive gait is a comfort to me when it’s late and dark and I’m feeling a little edgy. He's lived with his family, on Kittredge Park for 41 of his 51 years and the other ten, the family lived on Dorr Street. He estimates he walks 2-3 miles a day but I bet it’s more. No type of weather is a deterrent, Marvin says, and I’ve seen him out in the worst of it. Part of his walking habit is to run errands for neighbors and his walks tend to be confined to the neighborhood: Fernandez's on Washington and Cedar to Roxbury Crossing to the fast food joints in Dudley.
“I like the air and sunshine,’ he says but he won’t typically appear on the streets until after 1 in the afternoon.
His older brother, Kent, is a walker too, but also a bit more meditative. Kent is the solemn, intense, handsome man with the long dreads who will pause in his walks to think deeply and for a long time. At least that’s how it looks to me.
Walk on, Sealeys, and show the whingers how it’s done.