“Are you from Milwaukee?” asked the assistant attending to my very early morning coffee needs at a mall near one of my favourite libraries. My brain raced into overdrive – did I look Milwaukeean? Had I in fact been to Milwaukee in this life or a past one and conveniently forgotten?
It was not yet 8:30 – and I could not answer the first question of the day. It looked set to be a challenging twenty four hours. But I got it in the end: “No, I’m not from Mall Walking” I replied, at which my coffee almost doubled in price.
We’re all in the grip of Rebuild Christchurch fever right now. You can’t open The Press nowadays without being hit around the chops with all things green. We want to walk along the Avon, bicycle our thighs into submission and grow vertical gardens. And the library has the books for you to become something of an authority on this topic:
- Nature All Around Us (A 2013 Guide to Urban Ecology)
- My Green City (Back to Nature with Attitude and Style 2011)
- And my personal pick of the bunch: Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at A Time.
But what about our indoor spaces – how green are they? Winter is on its way and the call of the mall is strong. And this is where mall walking comes in. It’s a popular new trend, with both Northlands Mall and Westfield Mall allowing walkers in from 8am to walk in the safety and comfort of their deserted precincts.
In the interests of local research I joined a Mall Walking Group. Initially it felt strange to be tramping in such a cavernous space with so many shuttered shops. I allowed myself a James Bond fantasy moment involving Daniel Craig, but was pulled quickly back to earth by the snippets of pensioner conversation that drifted past.
After a few laps I stopped for my legitimately earned reduced-price coffee. I thought how easy it would be to snidely deride the mall walkers. Yet were I in a foreign city watching early morning Tai Chi in a mall, I would be raising my cappuccino in support, whilst penning tetchy Letters to the Editor on the greening of our malls!
But, how about you – how green is your mall and will you be striding through it any time soon?