And so begin my blogged adventures into sustainable transportation in Thurston County, Washington. My name is Nathaniel Ashlock and I’m about to finish my undergraduate studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. For those who don’t know, Olympia is both the capital of Washington State and also the county seat for Thurston County. 

I have lived in Olympia most of the time since September 2005 when I came to attend Evergreen. But technically that’s not true. Technically I have only lived in Olympia since September 2006. The previous year I lived in Tumwater which along with Lacey help create Olympia’s urban area. Because the cities bleed into one another in every way except political boundaries, it didn’t make sense to me to study one city in isolation. Because people in nearby rural areas and small towns depend so much on urban Olympia, it made sense to me to incorporate them into a study of the area. Conveniently, Thurston County contains the urban area and a nicely packaged area of small towns and countryside. That is why Jake and I will be studying Thurston County. 

We could have designed a plan to look at the transportation needs of Puget Sound but that looked a bit overwhelming. Besides, the center of attention for Puget Sound is Seattle. There are kids at the University of Washington who can worry about that stuff. We’ve got to take care of our own. 

How did I get interested in Sustainable Transportation? I loved cars and geography. When I was young I used to ask my mom where various car companies where from. When I was in sixth grade my favorite car was the Morgan 4/4, that weird British sports car that was designed in 1936 and has barely been updated since. I read Road and Track throughout high school but the funny thing is that I never really was interested in the mechanical aspects of cars. I was interested in knowing their histories and social implications. However, I am also a geography geek and that has manifested itself with an interest in urban and regional planning. From a planning perspective I have become aware of the destruction wrought by the the automobile on American cities, especially during the second half of the twentieth century. I have learned that diverse systems are more resilient systems and I have learned that cars have lots of expensive externalities. 

These are reasons why we need to re-examine the way people and goods get from place to place. These are reasons why we need to explore transportation options in Thurston County that can satisfy our needs and aspirations without diminishing the chances of future generations. 

Let the fun begin!