Getting the attention of the oblivious
Never was there a more apt, if overused, phrase than what I have in the subject line: to make our world, our corner of it, quieter, is indeed an uphill battle. Most people, I fear, are not in the least aware of the noise surrounding them. They work in restaurants where music competes with the clatter of dishes, the loud wheeze of a cappuccino machine, the electronic "feedback" sounds of a cash register, and fighting to be heard above it all, human voices.
Stores have piped in music, even stores which might cater to older clientele who don't listen to the kind of music being played—because that music, although ostensibly for the customer, is programmed by and mostly listened to (if they are aware of it at all) by the young sales staff.
I'm a HandyDART driver. I drive the elderly and disabled around town to medical and social appointments. My bus has a typical rattling diesel engine. It has a lift gate which bangs loudly as I drive over uneven streets and speed- bumps, so much so that I've jammed a wooden wedge into one part of it to reduce one of the noises, but not all.
All day long I listen to traffic, to the incessant roar of engines, car horns, and sirens. It exhausts me. When I finish work I must walk a few kilometres to the nearest bus stop and am again assaulted by traffic (S.E. Marine Drive; a lot of traffic).
Sometimes, when walking to and from work (but never while driving) I wear lightweight
headphones so I can listen to a CBC podcast on my iPod, but it is only effective, and audible, on quieter side streets. I have to pause it as I near a main road because I don't want to crank up the volume to drown out the noise around me.
What I'm getting around to, is that I want to create a Quiet Sunday. Not a quiet minute, or two, but a morning—at least a morning. Can we not have at least a single morning, six to noon, of peace and quiet?!
Of course the question is, how could or would this be implemented. No cars in Stanley Park: that's easy. How about no cars allowed on some of the major throughways, would that work? Probably not.
So: a campaign is needed. And still more than that. We need to make people aware of the noise around them. Perhaps we need to create a noise‑scape, a soundscape recording, something truly horrendous. Where would it play? No radio station I can think of, except perhaps a segment, along with an interview of one of the Right-to-Quiet people, on the CBC locally.
I'm rambling. I want to DO something. I cannot, presently, afford contributions, memberships, etc. But I want to bring noise, specifically urban noise, to a political level: perhaps this fall’s race for mayor and council might be a good time to "make a noise" about noise?
—By M. Cox