Melvin Freeman waiting on a Link light rail train

Rider stories: Making Connections

Transit keeps communities connected

Publish Date

Editor’s note:

Today we bring you something different from The Platform.

It’s the story of Melvin Freeman, a local visual artist dealing with vision loss who depends on transit.

It’s a reminder that for many riders, transit means more than just commuting.

It’s a lifeline.

During this time of social isolation we remember and celebrate the role transit plays in the daily lives of so many and look forward to the day when we can all resume our normal lives. 

The story started with a chance encounter coming off a light rail light rail train at the end of the day.

Read on to see how vital transit can be and the role it plays in making cultural community connections.

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By Glenn Landberg

Last summer, I was set on the idea of making a short film about a rider who relies on transit every day. A few weeks later, I met Melvin.

We were on the same train up to Capitol Hill one evening, and I noticed him bobbing and swaying to the tunes in his headphones as he made his way through the station to meet a friend outside.

Feeling awkward about approaching a stranger with the idea of casting him as the star of my video, I worked up my courage with a quick walk around the block to perfect my pitch.

When I made my way back around to Melvin, I simply introduced myself and did what I do best: Talk about trains.  

Melvin agreed to be featured in this video, and I spent the next several months learning more about Melvin, his art, vision loss and reliance on public transit.

The video includes audio descriptions for those who need it. Click the AD button to enable. 

For me, one of the biggest takeaways of this project was how interesting the person next to me was.

I’m guilty of pulling out my phone and putting headphones in as soon as I hop on the bus or train, but you might find that talking with your seatmate could lead to a friendship.

 

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