Friday, July 27, 2007

"What Would you build on Rice Street?"

So says the poster in several store front windows on Rice Street between Maryland and Atwater. At the bottom, Meeting at St. Bernard's Parish on such and such a date. I believe the question is framed wrongly; it asks about what sort of buildings on would build. What needs building is greater character in people. I will ask them about this at their next meeting. I did not make the July 12th meeting. One of our Maternity of Mary parishoners, returned from 18 months of service, 12-14 of them as the only medic in his company, (...brigade...? battalion...?...) gave a slide presentation. Mostly pictures of the most beautiful Iraqi children any of us had ever seen. He asked the Sheiks and was told, "Keep the children around you. If the terrorists ever attack or kill the children, the parents will seek revenge." And a short video of a fragmentation grenade blowing a washing machine to Maytag Repairman Hell. The man has intense character. Devotion to the proper ideals build character.

The ideal and ideas of the From their homepage:

Convened by the Center for Neighborhoods, this project brings together neighborhoods, a technical team, and city staff to develop a strategy for attracting well-designed, higher-density and affordable housing to transit corridors and town centers.
Brings together neighborhoods to do what, I ask? From the same homepage:
What the Initiative Has Done:
-Won the 2006 Innovations in Minnesota Government Award.

-Won the American Planning Association (APA) National Planning Excellence Award for a Grassroots Initiative in 2007, the 2006 Innovations in Minnesota Government Award, a Special Community Initiative Award from the Minnesota Chapter of the APA in 2005, and was a finalist in the Innovations in American Government Awards, also in 2005.
-Helped foster several housing developments that are planned or under construction in the corridors.
-Developed a range of user-friendly educational materials.
How many of us answer a "What have you done?" question with a list of the A's and B's on sixth grade math pop quizzes? In Spartacus, when Tony Curtis says "I am a singer of songs and teller of tales", Kirk Douglas asks him a second time, "Yes, but what work do you do?" I don't know who these people are; they may be very nice people, well intentioned and all. ( "What work do we do? We are the makers of paving stones of intention.")
More, (now we're getting somewhere! They are moving forward!!) :
Coming Events:

Moving Forward! Rice Street: Thursday, August 2, 2007
Rice Street
Want to be a part of creating the future of Rice Street?
With the City’s “Invest St. Paul”, and a renewed energy and excitement to address many of the vacant and blighted property along Rice Street, now is the time to get involved! Join us for a series of innovative and interactive community workshops where participants will be able to test out their own development concepts to see what’s possible. A team of design experts, development consultants, and facilitators from the nationally award winning Corridor Housing Initiative will join District 6 Planning Council, Sparc, and St. Paul’s Dept of Planning & Economic Development to help raise the level of dialogue around redevelopment issues. You don’t want to miss it!
Mark your calendars for the following events:
Thursday, June 21, 2007 Rethinking Rice Street 6:30-8:30 pm at St. Bernard's Parish Center, 147 W. Geranium AveLearn about what makes Rice Street work, and share your ideas about how housing, transit, and commercial development can make Rice Street a more vibrant corridor and asset to the community.
Thursday, July 12, 2007 Development ABCs 6:30-8:30 pm at St. Bernard's Parish Center, 147 W. Geranium AveJoin your neighbors in an interactive workshop to create feasible development scenarios for Rice Street. Design and development experts will be on hand to share ideas and insights.
Thursday, August 2, 2007 Moving Forward! 6:30-8:30 pm at St. Bernard's Parish Center, 147 W. Geranium Ave Explore the opportunities and challenges for development along Rice Street with a panel of developers, business leaders, and city representatives to build a strategic road map for the future of Rice Street.
All events are free and open to the public.
"Yes, but what work do you do?"
"We are singers of songs, tellers of tales. We explore opportunities and challenges. We create feasible development scenarios. We raise the dialogue around development issues! We address the blighted property!!
Ed Norton, "Hello, blighted property."
Why is the property 'blighted'? Before the property was blighted, what was it? What changed? Property does not' blight' itself. As the joke goes, the Irish priest says to the farmer, "Ah, you an' the Lord have done a wonderful job with this land." Says the farmer, "You should have seen it when it was just the Lord's." Guessing and speculating here, when it cost less to let property go than to keep it up, it blights. If I don't constantly attack the weeds, my garden is overrun with purslane, Johnson grass, chenopidium, knotweed and bindweed. I can build all the lovely fencing in the world, explore opportunities to dialogue and create vibrancy and potential, etc., etc.
I wonder if any of the " design experts, development consultants, and facilitators from the nationally award winning Corridor Housing Initiative" will actually move to Rice Street to help pull weeds from the character of the people.
More anon about the Center for Neighborhoods.

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