Kathyrn Willis

A Fashionably Small Carbon Footprint


Adapted from an interview with Dakota Parks


My father was in the Navy, so I went to high school in Pensacola. As a child, we would run around the neighborhood in Navy Point, playing and riding back and forth to the woods. Around the age of 19, I moved to New York, but my father retired here, so I would come home a few times a year to visit family. I was looking for adventure and wanted to get into the fashion industry. It was someplace I always wanted to go—big city, bright lights. I worked as a model in New York on 7th Avenue and went to Spain to work in fashion. While living in New York, I rode a bike for a while, but I stopped for about 20 years until I retired in Pensacola. For the past 20 years, I was semi-retired, working in animal rescue as a co-founder of Anjellicle Cats Rescue in New York, which is still going strong.

Kathyrn Willis

When I moved to East Hill, I thought I was going to get a car, but then I got a bicycle and found that I didn’t really need one. I had a bike in New York that got stolen, and I never replaced it. Instead, I would just hop on the subway whenever I needed to go somewhere. So, I sort of missed bike riding, and when I moved down here, I inherited my mother’s bicycle and had someone fix it up for me. The bike became my main means of transportation—going to UPS, the grocery, the drugstore, picking up medicine for the cats at the vet. I also have a friend in the neighborhood who rides, so sometimes we ride in the evenings together.


I’ve spent the last two years fixing up my first ever house. It’s like 120 years old, but who’s counting. It’s been a lot easier not having a car, and I found that I would rather spend that money from routine car maintenance on the house instead. I absolutely adore this neighborhood, and I think I’ve gotten to know the neighborhood better by riding my bicycle. I love the feeling of coasting around the neighborhood with the wind in my hair—just cruising around looking at houses and yards for inspiration.


I rarely leave East Hill, because this is where I'm comfortable. But, if there were more protected bike lanes, I might venture out more. I was really spoiled by the marvelous public transportation in New York, and I would love to see better public transportation here as well—better signage and more frequently timed routes. This is a very car-driven city, and I like not leaving a big carbon footprint.


I’m very concerned about the environment and global warming. I want to be friendly to Mother Earth and not one of those forces that is working against her. It’s scary to think about the cost of what we’re doing to the earth with fossil fuels. I want to be a force for good, and I think that riding a bike is one small way to do it. In the city, I used to share taxis and carpool, and now I Uber or catch rides with friends on their errands when I can’t use my bike. I don’t think people walk enough or ride their bikes enough, so I would love to see more people riding their bikes and sharing rides. It may take you longer to get where you’re going, but it’s worth it.