Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action

"Influencing Public Transportation Policy Through Community Engagement and Coalition Building: Process and Preliminary Outcomes" is now available online.  

Please contact me if you would like to access the article but are unable. 

Summers, P., Chao, E., McCoy, P., Perry, J., & Rhodes, S.D. (2020). Influencing Public Transportation Policy Through Community Engagement and Coalition Building: Process and Preliminary Outcomes. Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action 14(4), 489-498. doi:10.1353/cpr.2020.0054

Monday, December 14, 2020

What a year

One year ago was my last day behind the wheel of a city bus.  It was an emotional day made sweet by singing Christmas carols.  

A lot has happened since and I am grateful for the experience I gained during 2020. 

  • Worked with City with Dwellings at the overflow homeless shelter
  • Wrote an ebook for Stakeholder Health on public transportation
  • Wrote a transit corridor report for CSEM
  • Won a bus shelter public art contest
  • Case investigation for COVID-19 for the Health Department
  • Helped take the US Census as a NRFU
  • Arrested at a Black Lives Matter Protest for John Neville
  • Returned to WFSM to do project management

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Dean Franco can write

His article on our new pedestrian bridges illuminates our city's transportation blind spots.  He eloquently concludes one paragraph with "Now, a multi-million dollar transportation project is completed largely to flatter the city’s vision of itself while continuing to leave the town physically divided by class sequestration and racial segregation."

Read his op-ed at https://triad-city-beat.com/fresh-eyes-creative-corridors-not-creative-not-really-corridors/ 

I shouldn't be surprised that his words are cogent because he is an author and literature professor at Wake Forest University. I am thrilled to know him as a fellow bike rider and hope to see his Humanities Institute flourish.  

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

WSTA Prominent Transit Corridors Report

Winston-Salem was once a leader in public transportation.  I believe it could be again.

Please read my WSTA Prominent Transit Corridors Report that suggests expanding bus service in historic transit corridors.

The report's data tables are online for accessibility and transparency.

Below is Map 1, which illustrates the most prominent corridors that warrant expanded service.

Monday, June 1, 2020

My E-Book is online!

I am so excited to announce that my E-Book is now available from Stakeholder Health online at https://stakeholderhealth.org/bus-community-health

Gary Gunderson wrote an intro for the piece and it links to our 3 podcasts. I am so grateful for how the stories are woven together.  

I hope you will enjoy reading it but more importantly I hope it will promote positive change for transit riders!     

Monday, May 18, 2020


Fear has a contagious power like Miasma. 

I first read about Miasma in the book The Ghost Map; The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic - and how it Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World.  We are easily made afraid of things we don't understand. John Snow was courageous in following his conviction of how to halt the cholera outbreak. He was bound to find a way to prove his theory and by taking off the water-pump handle he made history. 

As a person who believes in the supernatural power of Jesus Christ, I am aware of how science while rational, is also taken on faith.  Miasma was a working scientific theory until it was discredited. 

COVID-19 is a modern-day example of something that is terrifying because we are figuring it out together.  We will need courageous leaders who work hard to fight prejudices towards neighbors just as Dr. Snow had to convince folks that slums were not the cause of the disease.  Today we know that slums are a symptom of our own greed and fear of neighbors.  Slums are the built environmental manifestation of social distancing. 

As a person of hope, I have to work hard to keep my heart open towards my neighbors when society is practicing social distancing. We have seen that social distancing is a privilege that many can't afford. I am aware of my own impulse to be selective in allowing who my family comes in contact with.  I have to choose courage over fear.

As we move into a new phase of Corona pandemic let's remember that love finds a way forward. I am struck by the prophetic meaning of the name Isaiah.  His name means "God to the Rescue." 

Isaiah wrote 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Maybe we are being called to be part of the rescue operation by loving our neighbors even when it feels scary. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Dreaming of 2045

Please visit http://www.wsmtpupdate.com and fill out the survey to provide input for transportation planning in our region.  I was thrilled to rank public transit as a priority issue.  I hope you will too.

Also, check out the environmental justice map in the Existing Conditions Report.  Expanding public transportation is a justice issue. 

Please join me in speaking up for transit! 

Monday, April 13, 2020

WS Pedestrian Plan Public Input

Visit the Walkable Winston-Salem project website and online input map to share your ideas on how to improve the safety, accessibility, and comfort of walking routes throughout the City: winston-salemwalks.com.

Every trip on the bus is also a pedestrian trip. Bus riders walk to and from bus stops and they often need to cross busy streets.  I have written about the need to improve the pedestrian safety infrastructure through popular transit corridors.   

Please take a minute to review the input map at https://www.winston-salemwalks.com/ and be sure to add to or like comments, you agree with.  Below is one of my comments related to my neighborhood of Waughtown.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Greenways are Open

I am seeing a lot of greenway usage as a refuge during this trying time of COVID-19.  It is an opportunity to see the critical role of recreation in public health as people try to practice social distancing while maintaining their health.

It is encouraging that bike shops are considered critical and allowed to remain open as a transportation option.   I've been busy with Salem Bicycle Works.

I am posting my physical activity to https://www.strava.com/athletes/faithful_feet.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Lessons in Homelessness

Working as a night monitor with City With Dwellings taught me a lot about working with homeless people. The organization's tag line, "A Community First Initiative" drew me in and working at two different churches gave me a chance to meet many members of our community.

As the monitor, my job was to establish relationships with the guests.   I knew them by name and got to know their personalities.  I was surprised how quickly we built rapport and was also continually shocked by how quickly it could evaporate. I learned about giving and receiving forgiveness.

Below are graphics that depict the average (18.4) number of guests that stayed with me for the 25 nights I worked.  I worked from 6:30 PM to 6:30 AM on Thursdays and Sundays.   During those 12 hours I got to interact with homeless men during check-in, dinner, a smoke break, going to sleep, waking up, and departing for the day.

Any night when there were 20 guests or more was particularly challenging for managing group dynamics.  By the end of the season, working with fewer at a time seemed much more manageable, but there was still plenty of room for unexpected events.  I worked hard to maintain quiet in an effort to help the guests sleep, but an overflow homeless shelter is a menagerie of activity.

Only one guest stayed with me every night that I worked.  That means he was with me the nights in December at Redeemer Presbyterian and the 3 months at First Presbyterian.  I worked 25 nights and the average guest was with me for 4 nights.  Of the 84 guests who stayed with me almost half stayed 2 nights or less.

These numbers demonstrate the churn and turnover in guests within the overflow shelter. These numbers are a subset in two ways.    They show only 1 of 4 sites coordinated by City With Dwellings and only the nights I worked.  

The depth of relationship that the longstanding staff members have with guests is impressive.  Through the many seasons of running the overflow shelter, they have gotten to know guests who come and go.   Working with an organization that ensures no one will sleep outside in the winter was an honor and a privilege to see the depth of love demonstrated through caring relationships.   I witnessed love in action and in truth.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Marching for Mobility

Marching for Mobility
Digitally enhanced photography (2020)
By Phillip Summers
Waughtown and MLK Bus Shelter Proposal

This is my application. The deadline is 3/27/20.  Submit an application!

Mobility and freedom of movement have long been social justice issues. Unfortunately, we still live in a context of segregation and stagnation of economic mobility. And yet, improved public transportation has the potential to positively impact the lives of passengers and the community at large. The proposed public art project Marching for Mobility invites every one of us to see ourselves in the long struggle towards social justice.

Marching for Mobility features neighbors who are specifically involved in mobility justice. The percussionists in the picture work at the used tire shop across the street from the bus shelter. Their business of selling used tires helps make owning a car more affordable in Winston-Salem. The elder statesman (Mr. Wilson) in the picture (right) works with me to salvage bicycles, thanks to his side hustle of collecting scrap metal. (See Scott Sexton’s 2018 article for a wonderful explanation of how this effort is building social capital on the southside.) The piccolo player is a longtime friend (Maria) who I met riding transit. Through her eyes I have seen how the system needs to improve—how to become loving advocates we must listen to one another’s stories. The flute player is an educator in the public school system and a source of comfort to many neighborhood children. The two young horn players (my children) represent the next generation, the future of the social justice movement.

The bus shelter at the intersection of Waughtown and MLK Boulevard is a very important place to our neighborhood. The Southeast Neighborhood Association began requesting a shelter at this location more than two years ago. Today, the shelter serves many daily riders who are very grateful to have this new amenity. Adorning the new shelter with local art will further complement and celebrate the public transit rider experience here in Winston-Salem.

On February 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. preached “The Drum Major Instinct” from the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church. He concluded his sermon with the now-famous quote: “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. (Amen) Say that I was a drum major for peace. (Yes) I was a drum major for righteousness.”

Carol Davis, who is a prominent member of our community, suggested this MLK quote. Carol’s vision and leadership through the SG Adkins Community Development Corporation has inspired many of us, and her suggestion to share this quote holds power. Carol, like each of the band members in the photo, sees herself as part of the march towards mobility.

The use of red as the prominent color in this artwork is intentional. It is the school color of the historically black university less than a mile north of the shelter. The marching band at Winston-Salem State University is nationally recognized for its excellence in the performing arts—again, something to celebrate.

I took the original photograph at the bus shelter, so that it could be scaled to near life-size. The .png file of the image has been uploaded with this application. I used the open-source applications of Paint Brush and Gimp to enhance the image with the quote and instruments, to convey the fact that we can all join MLK in the march toward social justice. The image follows the second proposal guidelines to be printed on vinyl by the Public Art Commission. I am grateful that the Public Art Commission is making this project accessible to creatives from all levels of experience and expertise. 

As a creative person, I have been a part of educational and documentary filmmaking, website and flier design, and the creation of academic posters. (Several samples of this type work can be found on my website www.BlindSpot.City.) I have included the original photography that became Marching for Mobility. I have included a picture of my custom bicycle. I chose every component and accessory on the bike to illustrate a joyous celebration. I see it as a celebration of active transportation in our city. I also included a picture of Mr. Wislon bringing bikes to my house. He posed for this photo with neighborhood kids who were recipients of the bikes. The photo conveys the connections that only caring neighbors can forge. Finally, I included a picture with my longtime passenger friend Maria, taken on the bus while I was a bus driver. We have been riding buses and talking about transit together for 10 years.

To improve the bus system in Winston-Salem is to ‘march with a drum major’ like Dr. King towards social justice. When we improve bus service, we bring passengers more social and economic mobility, more freedom, and more peace. Positive experiences—yes, simply waiting at the bus stop—help us have strong, righteous relationships with our neighbors and environment. Marching for Mobility captures that spirit: improve transit to improve our community.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Public Works Committee Wants Your Input

Come give input on the importance of bus frequency at the public works committee meeting on Tuesday, March 17th at 6pm at City Hall.

City Council member, Dan Besse invited transit advocates to attend the public works committee to provide input.  You can watch the video of his invitation in the story "Making News."

99% Invisible's podcast "Missing the Bus," has a brilliant explanation on why bus frequency is so important.  It is an interview with, Steve Higashide a transit expert, bus champion, and author of a new book called Better Buses Better Cities.

Take a look at WSTA's ride per hour of service ratio to see which routes are transporting the most people.  I believe there is a lot of latent demand on routes 92 and 96. Improved frequency on those routes would generate more rides and many corollary benefits for our community.

Come out to the public works committee meeting on Tuesday the 17th to weigh in on making our city better via improved bus frequency.

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 17 at 6pm to comment on proposed service changes.

Editors note on 3/4/20 Public Works committee was changed from 3/10 to 3/17.  

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.