Another valedictory, this time to Josh Hart who is about to leave our little island for his hometown of San Francisco, travelling entirely by surface public transport as a gesture against the hegemony of the plane and car. His arrival from San Francisco some three years ago by the same means made quite a splash with the media. But he had serious work to do at UWE and undertook valuable research replicating an earlier study (coincidentally carried out by an Englishman, Appleyard, in San Francisco 40 years ago) into the deleterious effect of high traffic levels on social contact between neighbours.
As well as undertaking the two year UWE course Josh has been very active in local and national environmental campaigns (as a google search will confirm), has maintained an excellent blog, On the Level, and has helped revitalise the Bristol Cycling Campaign. He has impressed us all with his typically American 'can do' attitude and has been inspirational as a public speaker, which he demonstrated again last Friday with his speakers' corner spot at the Arnolfini (above) and on many occasions when addressing politicians and local government officers, as in this video.
We hope to see him again in Bristol before too long, but who knows. It's not easy being committed to change and uncompromising in working for it. He has just completed a stint with Living Streets (formerly the Pedestrians Association) where he has done much to promote local groups but has clearly found it difficult to accept the 'don't bite the hand that feeds' culture of an organisation that seems to have been 'Sustrans-ised', abandoning cutting-edge campaigning for more lucrative work as in effect a government agency.
We can at least be confident that Josh will continue to make a big impact where ever he goes, an animated voice in defence of both the delicate environmental systems that underpin our survival and the weakest members of society. We all wish him well and will be following his exploits with interest via his blog which he has promised to continue.