From the Appalachian Trail to bike lanes: Semiannual Talk20MHK event reaches third installment

Audience members listen to presentations at the Talk20MHK event at the Manhattan Public Library on September 27, 2018. (Anna Spexarth | Collegian Media Group)

“Hike your own hike,” Rita Ross, Manhattan community member, said.

Ross said she had never hiked more than a few miles at a time before her husband dropped her off in the Appalachian Mountains of Georgia in the spring of 2013.

“One of the best rewards of hiking up a mountain is the stunning view,” Ross said, standing in front of a slideshow featuring misty mountaintop views. “When you are alone on a summit you feel so small and the sights are so vast. Sometimes your eyes want to stay a while, but you have to push on.”

Through many hikes Ross has covered a little over half of the Appalachian Trail—1,100 miles so far to date. She said she intends to continue pushing on until she reaches the trail’s final summit of Mount Katahdin in Maine.

Ross was one five presenters at Thursday’s Talk20MHK. The event is a local platform for community members. Each presenter has seven minutes to give a presentation made up of 20 slides on varying topics.

The event, in its third installment, is semiannual and hosted by UFM Community Learning Center and the Manhattan Public Library.

“I love the people who come and speak at these kinds of events because they are always really passionate about what they do, and it is just so enlightening to hear about other people’s passions and what drives them,” Kathryn Collins, junior industrial engineering, said. “It so often is things that don’t usually touch my life and so it is nice to be able to get out of my bubble and learn about other people and what they care about.”

KayLee Proctor, owner of Little Apple Doulas, gave her presentation on the word “why” and the role of oxytocin in parenting.

“’Why’ is the three letters that are so important to understanding how the world works, understanding one another and developing compassion and empathy for our fellow humans,” Proctor said. “It allows us to increase production of oxytocin which furthers our brain development and the neural pathways that are formed”.

Proctor said it takes a village to raise a child, and in an increasingly individualistic society that isolates children by exposing them to only a few people, children are not developing as much oxytocin. Therefore, their brains are not developing in the most beneficial matter.

“When people do not learn how to connect with one another they begin to learn how to connect with things,” Proctor said. “They are looking for that next easiest way to connect with that something that gives them those feel-good hormones, hence our addiction problem today.”

She encouraged audience members to think about raising their children around a community of people, whether that be grandparents or even neighbors.

“Instead of favoring isolationism and independence, what if we learned to lean on one another,” Proctor said. “What if we started thinking about this as we are embracing our future by taking care of one another?”

Other speakers at Talk20MHK also focused on the potential of the future in their presentations.

Jared Tremblay, member of the Flint Hills Metropolitan Planning Organization, spoke on the importance of multi-modal transportation, specifically how to make walking and biking in Manhattan more accessible for community members.

“Our highways [in Manhattan] have created de facto walls for bikes and pedestrians, and we have very few safe and direct connections across them,” Tremblay said.

Tremblay said Manhattan’s on-going solutions to create bike boulevards, bike lanes and paved trails separate from busy streets are not enough.

“We want to be AAA: all ages and abilities, which means 8 to 80,” Tremblay said. “Get these groups cycling and everyone wins, and we use less space [on the roads]”.

Other speakers included Dave Colburn of The Pathfinder outdoor and bike specialty store and Michi Tobler, a scientist at Kansas State. Colburn spoke on riding bikes in Manhattan, the distance cycling community around it, as well as his experience distance riding.