Public transportation is a key part of how our community connects – whether or not you are a bus rider yourself. Public transportation connects our neighborhoods; connects people to employment, medical, and other services; and it helps keep cars off the road, which means everyone else can get where they’re going a little faster.
Each year, RIDE Solutions tells the story of public transportation’s ability to connect people through its Writer by Bus program. Through a partnership with Valley Metro and the Roanoke Arts Commission, a local writer is selected from a group of applicants to ride the bus for two months and tell the stories of what they experience.
The 2017 Writer by Bus was Roanoke County’s Shari Dragovich, a freelance writer who regularly contributes to the Roanoker Magazine. Shari spent March and April riding every route in the Valley Metro system – a new adventure for her, having never ridden the bus before – and developed a series of essays that have been gathered in a collected titled The Thirty Minute Neighborhood. RIDE Solutions recently celebration the publication of the collection with a reading at Roanoke’s Raleigh Court branch library.
Of her experience, Shari says “With each bus ride, my convictions about Roanoke and its citizens were both deepened and enlarged. Simple kindnesses and easy conversation are the rule, not the exception. They cross ethnic, racial and economic boundaries. In fact, on Roanoke’s buses, such boundaries seem nonexistent. I spent my bus times both as silent observer and active converser. After each ride, I would furiously write notes of that day’s ride — pieces of conversations, acts of kindness, details of lives, people and a community I quickly recognized and came to call the ‘Community of Bus.’”
The Thirty Minute Neighborhood is available for download or purchase at the Writer by Bus website, www.ridesolutions.org/artbybus. Also available are the collections from the previous two years by Writer by Bus authors Meighan Sharp and Melanie Almeder.
With the publication of the 2017 collection, RIDE Solutions and the Roanoke Arts Commission have opened up the application period for the 2018 Writer by Bus. Interested authors can submit a writing sample and complete an application at https://www.roanokeva.gov/2294/Writer-on-the-Bus.