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A Chance at Progress

By Yorgo Douramacos

Indiana Crossrails came as complete surprise to me. Even before it had a name, its proposed existence shocked me to my core.

Fall semester 2014: I was a thirty-two year old undergrad inching my way ever closer to my long delayed graduation. I was giving thought to what classes I could take to fill out my few remaining requirements. Then someone who knew of my interest in Indiana’s electric rail history told me that an immersive learning project was being planned for the spring advocating for mass transit. “…kind of a train thing, I think.” was what she told me.

I live at a reduced pace from most people. As a thirty-three year old who just this last Saturday graduated college I can say with confidence that I like to take my own time with things. I so distrust speed that I have never had my driver’s license. I took driver’s-ed in the summer of 1997 and immediately decided I would live without that certification for as long as I could.

In my twenties, as I linked my life on foot and through the good graces of friends and family willing to give rides for gas money I became aware of Indiana’s history as a place once extensively connected by regional rail transit. The Interurban rail system that existed from the 1890s through the 1930s (more closely accounted elsewhere on this website) was a like ghostly witness against the notion of positive cultural progress, the idea that mankind changes for the better over time. It taunted me from old photographs and historical documents.

It never occurred to me that other people might care to hear about my obsession with a world connected by accessible transit. I knew that some people in some places had it, but as a slow moving cynic it did not occur to me that the young, energetic and the intelligent might see it as a cause worth their time. As far as I could see everyone drove and no one really cared

Enter Indiana Crossrails. I joined this project not knowing what to expect and what I have found is something I could not have imagined: a reason to be hopeful. I have encountered talented people who believe enough in the cause of mass rail transit to work ever harder and harder to see this project through. I am inspired by their energy and excited for what they will each accomplish in their lives.
Wherever I go next I will likely get there slowly. But if nothing else Indiana Crossrails has allowed me something that will see me through to my next destination, a belief in the possibility of positive cultural progress.