Transportation Note

Transportation Note:
Trolley Conversations
by Maggie Clampet-Lundquist 


​Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia is building an expanded archive of cultural memory that includes multiple histories, re-place-ing the established with new narratives and understandings. Notes consider place via the street, sound, food, trees, and other portals.

In partnership with educator Joshua Block, students from Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy are creating and publishing their Philadelphia Field Notes. Maggie Clampet-Lundquist shares her school commute and what/who she notices.


I take public transportation to school every day, and I’ve seen all types of people get on and off the trolley. I wanted to do this project because for someone who rides the trolley every day I haven’t taken the time to notice the people that ride with me. 

Yesterday morning my father told me a story about a boy he sat next to. The boy was carrying a bouquet of flowers on his lap. He turned to him and asked who the flowers were for, and he said they were for his friend because someone in their family recently passed away. For the rest of the ride, they talked about a variety of different topics. He got off the trolley before my father did. This story resonated with me, this kid couldn't have been more thoughtful or kind. 

I decided to follow my dad's example the next day. When I got on the trolley I sat down in the second row from the front, a woman was sitting in the seat closest to the window, she was wearing a floral top and purple pants. Her name was Grace. She was heading to thirtieth street, to catch the train that would take her to see her daughter. We made small talk until she had to get off, she asked me what my name was, I asked her if her favorite color was purple and she said yes, we both shared the same favorite color. 

I have continued to talk to the people I sit next to on the trolley whether I know them or not because I would rather talk to them than put my headphones in and close myself off. I enjoy getting to listen to the stories people tell. People should make an effort to get to know the people they ride the trolley or the bus or the train with because you could make a new friend and hear a story that inspires, resonates, or amazes you.

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