Monday, February 24, 2020

Hotel 22

I am currently working as the night monitor for the seasonal homeless shelter, City With Dwellings.  We derive our name and mission from the beautiful passage of Isaiah 58.  I love the part that says:
...and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
Working with individuals experiencing homelessness has given me new gratitude for life and appreciation for the relative luxuries of homeownership.  Driving a city bus put me in contact with poverty in new ways and challenged me in how I look for ways to share that experience with others. I am eager to share the stories below.

Hotel 22 is a 24-hour bus in Silicon Vally, California. It is Valley Transit Authority Route 22 and a trip from East San Jose to Paloalto takes an hour and a half.  It got its name because homeless people ride it to seek shelter at night.

My dad heard about it on the radio and told me to look it up. I am so glad I did because I came across two great documentaries.

I was spellbound as I listened to the BBC's documentary podcast.  It made my heart hurt for the driver who is falling off the benefits cliff and trying not to lose hope.  More and more I realize that drivers deserve attention as much as passengers suffering from structural vulnerability and health inequalities. 
I also came across Elizabeth Lo's breathtaking documentary short film composed of experiences during a week of riding Hotel 22.  She captures an argument between passengers and it reminds me of the strife that can so quickly flare up as I monitor the homeless shelter.  The raw footage of human weariness is compelling.  It reminds me that we must See the Traveler if we want our light to shine like the noonday.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Making News

I pray that the newspaper article, "Scientist turned bus driver advocates for Winston-Salem passengers" helps improve public transportation locally.  I am grateful Scott Sexton wrote the story and I appreciate his skill as a writer. 

On Monday, we went to City Hall to speak up for improved bus service.  You can see the video of our comments online.  If you want to skip to the comments, below are the list of time points:

  • Minute 54 - Phillip opens with a challenge to the council to consider how privatization keeps the system at an arm's length. 
  • Minute 60 - Luke shares a brilliant summary of the CSEM Rider Study
  • Minute 68 - Brian shares a passionate personal testimony and plea for the city to do better 
  • Minute 70 - Ray closes with a call to improve bus service as we aspire to be a city
  • Minute 77 - City Council Member Dan Besse thanks us for showing support and gives rebuttal. 
Please follow Council Member Besse's invitation to come to the Public Works Committee meeting on March 10 at 6pm to comment on proposed service changes. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Go to City Hall on February 17

Please join me at the public hearing of City Council at 7 pm on Monday, February 17th to speak up for public transportation.  The meeting will be in City Hall, 101 North Main Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101.

Bus riders and advocates need to call for improved frequency of service.  Six routes enjoyed 30-minute frequency during the Business 40 Closure.  Currently, WSTA is planning on ending the service of those second buses on May 1st. 

Come speak up for expanded service across the entire public transportation system.  I hope that the service continues to expand and not be reduced.   You can see from the September ride per route ratio which routes will be affected. 

I believe that routes 92, 96, and 93, which provide service to the north and the east, deserve a second bus to improve their frequency from every hour to every 30 minutes.  Their ridership is currently 28, 26, and 21 rides per hour, respectively. 

Bus riders and advocates must speak up for the continued expansion of bus service as an economic mobility issue that has immediate community benefit.  Investing in public transportation is money well spent in an effort to develop our community and promote social justice.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

FaithHealth Recording

I presented to FaithHealth today and was grateful to tell stories from the bus. 

You can hear the recording and view the slides.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

FaithHealth Slides

Tomorrow is the big day. 

I hope you can join me to hear stories from my year of driving a city bus. I learned a lot about the social determinants of health. 

Come to the 10th Floor of the Wake Forest Baptist Health Comphrenshive Cancer Center at 9am to hear the presentation for FaithHealth

I have the slides ready to go!   

Bed Bugs

Even the thought of bed bugs makes my skin crawl.   They are a mysterious cause for concern.

But as I read more about them I feel even more sad about the stigma that I have witnessed.  The stigma that is based on irrational fear about how they are spread and the assumed failure of anyone who has been exposed. It is breaking my heart. 

A colleague who is a brilliant doctor and medical director for infection prevention and health system epidemiology sent me an email that taught me a lot. Below are the materials he recommended that I read.

  1. A detailed plan of how to deal with bed bugs with a lot of great tips (including protection of staff)
  2. Very nice intro into the bed bug problem with great tips
I am working as the night monitor at the overflow homeless shelter and we follow these guidelines.  

While I was a bus driver the hysteria of concern about possible bed bug infestation would come up with drivers. I am realizing that our ignorance about the issue is a potential barrier to compassion.  Public servants from volunteers in shelters to bus drivers need more education about bed bugs so they don't perpetuate the stigma.  

Greater understanding of bed bugs enables us to be compassionate, not frightened. 

Thursday, January 2, 2020

FaithHealth Divisional Rounds

I am excited to be lecturing at the FaithHealth Divisional Rounds on Wednesday, January 22 at 9 A.M.  I will share stories and insights about the public health importance of public transportation in the Wake Forest Baptist Health Comprehensive Cancer Center Conference Room 10B.  You are welcome to come.

FaithHealth Divisional Rounds offer an opportunity to highlight the complex and relevant work of FaithHealth in Forsyth County (and surrounding) communities. Focus is given to the hands-on work of those inside and outside the walls of the hospital, connecting our most vulnerable persons to resources that improve health and wholeness.  These resources include a wide network of faith communities, local agencies, and clinical partners.

Please join us on Wednesday, January 22 at 9AM in the Cancer Center Conference Room 10B, all who are interested in the topic are welcome.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019


CV is short for Curriculum Vitae, a Latin phrase meaning "course of life."

I recently updated my CV and included it as a tab on the navigation bar for easy access. My life followed an interesting course in 2019. It turned down a road of solidary with the poor and it followed a calling for radical advocacy for the expansion of public transportation to improve mobility.

As I ponder what is next professionally I feel open to what 2020 has in store.  Please check out my CV and reach out to me with job offers!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Hours, Rides, and Pay

I began working for the Winston-Salem Transit Authority on Monday, January 28th and ended my tenure on Friday, December 13th. I learned a great deal about the public health importance of public transportation during the course of the year of our Lord 2019.

I worked 2,037 hours providing an estimated 24,721 rides (hours multiplied by rides per hour ratio) and earned $26,764 in take-home pay.

The chart below shows that my hours were trending up from an average of 43.3 hours per week.  My longest week was 55.8 hours which resulted in an estimated 832 rides.

The average American works 1,811 hours in a year (TMFBookNerd).  I worked 226 hours more than that which helps me rationalize the completion of my goal of driving for a year. I logged 8 weeks of working 50 hours or more.

My income was below the federal poverty line for a family of 5.

View analysis of my hours, rides and pay online in this spreadsheet. Data comes from the ADP App of my pay stubs; any error in data entry or analysis is my own.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

All Aboard!

This video is highlights of the last few days and features an opera singer singing the Latin prayer Dona Nobis Pacem.  The prayer translates as "grant us peace." 

Friday is my last day as a driver.  Check my route calendar to find a time to ride along. 

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