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Building a legacy one crosswalk at a time

Apr 4, 2019
by Lauren Piskothy, '20

When Colton Neubauer interned for the vice mayor of St. Augustine last Fall, he could never have expected one idea about a crosswalk to blossom into the large impact it has already had on Flagler’s campus and the community at large. He built a crosswalk, but it became more than that. It became a gateway to a bigger conversation about how he cares for people. His desire to not only listen to students’ concerns but to take action, led him to speak at the Safe Streets Summit about mobility.

As SGA president, Colton had heard a lot of concerns from students about their safety when it came to crossing the street in front of the FEC dorms. With his new internship at the vice mayor’s office, he saw an opportunity to confront this safety issue and took it directly to the vice mayor.

“The whole interaction with me and mobility in the city, was never something I thought I was going to get involved with. I decided I would run it by him to see if he could help. I told him we needed a crosswalk in front of the FEC dorms and he said yes. It was on the Director of Mobility’s desk by that afternoon.”

At first, surprised at the opportunity, Colton didn’t think much would come of it. After a few months, he was sent a blueprint. While the process was slow, the crosswalk was made over summer. He realized he really could turn ideas into action and was inspired.

“That got me thinking more and more about mobility and how much it really is important to students. I realized how important it was to address students’ concerns now.”

He made the connection and realized the importance of safety and access in students’ daily lives. Shortly after, the city reached out to Flagler for a speaker for the 2018 Safe Streets Summit and the school asked Colton to be that speaker. He accepted, not realizing the impact he’d made and could continue to make with his speech at the Summit.

“I didn’t really realize how important it might have been for me to speak there, I thought wow, this might have really had an effect on the direction some people are going to take with mobility.”

One of the topics of the Summit was intergenerational mobility. This was his opportunity to not only speak on behalf of his generation, but to communicate to older generations that we all have similar concerns, even though they may be expressed differently.

“I wanted to bridge that gap between some of the older generations that might not realize what we might need. I also wanted it to be known that our age group, doesn’t have concerns or desires with mobility that are that different from older generations; ultimately, we are all on the same page, we just don’t express it in the same way.”

Colton’s success with the crosswalk has also made him confident that Flagler will continue to work with the city of St. Augustine on projects such as the bike sharing program. He has hopes that mobility can help build a bridge between different perspectives and create a common ground.

“I hope the relationship with the school and the students with the city in terms of mobility and in general strengthens down the road and I think it will. Flagler is nothing without St. Augustine and St. Augustine is nothing without Flagler College. Mobility is a great starting point for building those relationships.”

He hopes to keep this momentum going with his remaining time at Flagler and further down the road. Colton’s experience with the Safe Streets Summit has only further cemented his desire to work in politics and down the road, pay it forward.

“The goal is to go into politics, I’m a political science major and I came from the D.C. area to study politics. I feel like Flagler has given me so much. I’d like to come back here at some point to be a guest speaker when I have some cool D.C. job and I could come back and talk or be a forum speaker. Long term, I’d like to be an adjunct or professor after I’m done doing whatever I do with my career.”

While the crosswalk was just the beginning for Colton, going through the process, seeing the result, and the people he affected, will continue to follow him in his career.

“I never want to be away from politics or policy making. I just think, it sounds cheesy, but the U.S. has a lot of potential and we don’t always live up to that. Even in smaller counties and states, I always want to help governments and people and utilize the resources they have most sufficiently. I feel like through politics you can do that.”

Above all, he saw more than just the issue of mobility or the crosswalk itself, but the people who could benefit from it. It was the small steps he took to complete this project, that will continue to impact Colton and the students who walk along that crosswalk for years to come.

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