Lian (Harvard GSD M.Arch.I)

I graduated in 2013, but still blog here once in a while.

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    Something I haven't talked about publicly: why I care so much about transit

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    May 24, '23 5:49 PM EST

    Something I don’t talk about much, and certainly not in public, is how I came to care so much about public transit. I wasn’t one of those kids who obsessed over route schedules and maps. I grew up in an abusive home in the suburbs. 

    I couldn’t just walk or even bike everywhere I wanted to go. The bus gave me some independence, at an early age, to live my life. It was a way that I could get to activities and school and see friends without relying on my parents to drive me every single time. It allowed me to say “no thanks” when it was important to me or when I had no other choice. So I used transit from a young age, benefitting a ton from other riders looking out for me. Getting on the wrong line, missing my stop, getting on the right line in the wrong direction—heck, I still do all that today, and still rely on other riders to help me get where I’m going. The community of public transit riders is a real community. Public transit has always been there for me, even when I wish it was more convenient or served more destinations. Buses, trains, and stations are public spaces, and their publicness makes them generally safe. 

    So when I was nineteen and got caught in another city in the apartment of a man who I had thought was safe, but who turned out to not be, and I found myself fleeing in the middle of the night, where did I go? The only place I knew, which was the nearest subway station, where I sat and leaned on the wall and dozed until the trains started running in the morning, and I could move on. Maybe you have your own story like this, too.

    [image from]

    Public transit is a low-cost way for people to go where they need to go, and to be safe. It’s important for our climate and economic goals, of course—but it also saves and changes lives, by making vulnerable people a little less vulnerable.

    For young people, for people without money, for people with disabilities or mobility needs, for victims of domestic abuse, for people who want independence without depending on someone else at every step: let’s fund public transit in California, and everywhere.

    Public transit funding is in peril right now in California. We’re asking Assemblymember and Budget Chair Phil Ting and Governor Gavin Newsom to support public transit in the budget. Please take one minute to call Budget Chair Phil Ting at: (916) 319-2019 to ask him to fund public transit. (That's all you have to say--no need for speechmaking, though you can go deeper if you want!)

    San Francisco Transit Riders also has a tool that will help you email both Budget Chair Ting and Gov. Newsom very quickly, either with a pre-written text or your own words.

    Thank you <3

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About this Blog

This blog was most active from 2009-2013. Writing about my experiences and life at Harvard GSD started out as a way for me to process my experiences as an M.Arch.I student, and evolved into a record of the intellectual and cultural life of the Cambridge architecture (and to a lesser extent, design/technology) community, through live-blogs. These days, I work as a data storyteller (and blogger at in San Francisco, and still post here once in a while.

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