(De)construction Holiday: Visioning Possibilities for Pathways

Urban roadways contribute to heat islands, toxic runoff and stressful humanscapes. With vision, we can change this.

B. Lorraine Smith
5 min readJul 30, 2022


The view from the passenger seat on the road from Montreal to Northern Ontario during Quebec’s annual “construction holiday”. I spent time visioning what it could look like instead (see drawing below).

Passenger pain prompts possibilities for pathways

Two things are colliding here:

  1. Noticing that a lot of our urban and highway infrastructure is designed so as to practically guarantee accelerated global warming and species decline.
  2. Accepting a challenge to put more time each day into envisioning better, alternative outcomes.

The result is a mix of helplessness and curiosity, resignation and enthusiasm.

Construction holiday road trip, even though I’m no fun in a car

It’s the annual “construction holiday” in Quebec right now, a convenient time for many (including my co-traveler) to take time off. This is a wonderful thing. And… our 10-hour journey by car to visit family in Northern Ontario reminded me how stressful I find being in a car. There are two levels of trouble that prompt me to envision something better.

Level 1 is about personal trauma. Between the ages of 18 and 21, I was in the vehicle directly behind three separate multi-car collisions, each with fatalities. I am lucky to have avoided injury (physically, anyway), and to have seen firsthand how the laws of physics actually work (versus what Hollywood pretends) when things go badly wrong with cars on the highway.

Even all these years later, for me being a passenger in a car on the highway involves a mix of dissociation and surrender.

Level 2 is about urban infrastructure’s traumatic impact on our quality of life, from the day-to-day of aggressive traffic to our long term prospects in a hostile, biologically tortured environment. Regarding the long term, the heat islands created by paved spaces with minimal biodiversity are, to be blunt, a problem.

I just kind of deal with it on the rare car journeys I take, and I really do enjoy the journey and destinations in my own way. But I am not much fun if I let my mind sink into all the bad things that…



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B. Lorraine Smith

Recovering ESG "expert"; yarn spinner; distance runner; magical realist. Sensing a path to an economy serving life. also at https://blorrainesmith.substack.com/