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Tag Archives: urban renewal

Streetcars Return to DC

Re-purposed “antique” DC Capital Transit Fare Tokens,, which are actually a bit smaller than a dime.

As a youngster, I remember Streetcars running on the streets of Washington, DC. Indeed, somewhere in my collection of trivial things I’ve never thrown out is a DC Capital Transit Fare Token. As a youngster, my Mom and I rode the Subway Car through Georgetown on the last day in 1962, before they shut the system down. The Washington, DC METRO Subway System was built with little regards as to where the people who were actually going to use the system actually lived – or where developers were building huge communities outside the Capital Beltway. As such, an area like Tyson’s Corner, a non-incorporated area near the City – which employs more people than the City of Washington, DC only got access with the addition of the new Silver Line last year. In a number of other fast growing un-served communities in the area, the Streetcar has become a rallying cry – and plans to build at least 6 lines have been underway with varying success over the last few years.

The first of the proposed systems is scheduled to open 2/28/2016, covering he rapidly developing (re gentrifying) H Street corridor in Northeast DC.

While a romantic idea from a bygone era, there are valid questions as to whether such systems are even viable.

The new system?

Yeah they are pretty…But they are going to make a hell of a mess of traffic on H Street

 

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Posted by on February 27, 2016 in General

 

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Signs of Life in Detroit

Been hearing rumbles of this for a while. The first thing I heard about was some very creative groups working in the area of urban farming, who were leading the country with revolutionary concepts on hanging urban landscapes. It appears that Detroit may be “catching fire” again with creative talent, drawn by the low rent, and possibilities to chart their own space.

Two years ago, the renowned graffiti artist Revok moved from LA to Detroit Josh Harkinson

Graffiti Artist Revok

Detroit may be down… But it ain’t dead quite yet.

How to Bring Detroit Back From the Grave

“Warning! This city is infested by crackheads. Secure your belongings and pray for your life.” So reads a hand-scrawled sign just off I-75 in Detroit, where a post-apocalyptic cityscape of looted and charred homes has come to represent a sort of sarcophagus of the American Dream.

But beyond simply fueling murders and bribery scandals, decades of hard times have finally birthed new signs of life here in the Motor City, as its gritty neighborhoods attract a burgeoning community of artists, hipsters, and socially minded entrepreneurs. “With a little bit of motivation, you can make anything happen here,” says Jason Williams, a.k.a. Revok, a renowned Los Angeles graffiti artist turned Detroiter, whose lively murals adorn walls not far from the crackhead sign. “It’s all about the reality that you create for yourself.”

For those willing to brave the nation’s most dangerous major city, Detroit offers a tight-knit and successful creative community. The birthplace of Motown and techno still manages to turn out chart-busting artists like Eminem and Jack White. And growing numbers of bohemians have found that a few thousand dollars will buy them a classic brick townhouse or a loft in an art-deco skyscraper. Where old buildings have fallen, hundreds of urban gardens sprout.

Detroit is hardly the first city to lure urban homesteaders with access to cheap and artfully crumbling buildings. The same formula revitalized (and eventually gentrified) neighborhoods such as the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and San Francisco’s Mission and Dogpatch districts. The big difference in Detroit, however, is that its economy blew a rod long ago, triggering an exodus of more than half the city’s population—last year, it lost another 28,000 people. Barely a quarter of those who remain have a degree from a four-year college. During my recent visit, local elected leaders were warning that the city could run out of money—within the week.

Last year, in Guernica magazine, Wayne State literature professor John Patrick Leary cautioned against what he called “Detroitism,” the fetish for urban decay mixed with utopianism, “where bohemians from expensive coastal cities can have the $100 house and community garden of their dreams.” But Detroit offers much more. Here is a city that foretold the woes of America’s middle class—and spent decades searching for a path out of its recessionary wilderness. Forget the clichés about heirloom tomatoes and check out these four examples of creative Detroiters who are making a difference

The Power House Gina Reichert

Meet the Power House and the new “Hood Cat” changing neighborhoods a brick at a time

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2012 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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Urban Farming – The Next Frontier?

Seems to be a lot of space in formerly Urban areas which is now empty. This ground was more than likely formerly farmland, which was used to feed the nearby urban area before the suburbs took over. There is no reason – except knowledge, skill, determination, and a little hard work – for not converting some of this into usable land in terms of food production. I’ve always found growing my own food in a garden just tastes better – and considering you don’t need all those pesticides and chemicals used by the factory farms…It’s a lot healthier.

So even though I live on a heavily treed lot – I have found space to put out some Tomato Plants, Cucumber,and Basil in containers.

Urban reuse is going to be the next major change in living in this country.  Time to go back, and maybe…This time get it right.

Using Community Gardens to Grow Low-Income Communities Out of Food Deserts

March 20th marked the third anniversary of the planting of the White House vegetable garden, the first functioning garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden. The garden is an essential part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative that aims to help raise a generation of healthy, active kids. But while it provides an excellent jumping off point for discussing the importance of nutrition, it does not get to the root cause of the lack of nutrition across the country. Not everyone can have an organic garden in his backyard or, on an even more basic level, a supermarket that sells quality fruits and vegetables. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, more than 23 million Americans live in “food deserts”: areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food, particularly ones composed of predominantly lower income neighborhoods and communities. Before we begin to talk about the problem of nutrition in our country, we must first improve access to food for millions of Americans. And Michelle Obama is on the right path — community gardens can be a powerful tool for improving access to produce for people across the country. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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San Francisco, Last One Out – Take The Horn Section

Blacks abandon San Francisco – No US city has seen a more rapid decline of its African-American population.

Fillmore Then - Billie Holiday singing at the Champagne Supper Club; Dexter Gordon hanging out at Bop City; Dizzie Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Chet Baker and John Coltrane all dropping in for jam sessions. A nostalgic snapshot of the New York or Chicago jazz scene? No: this was San Francisco's Fillmore District in its musical heyday.  The Fillmore in the 1940s and 1950s was a swinging, eclectic, and integrated neighbourhood, streets full of restaurants, pool halls, theatres, and stores - many minority-owned. It boasted two-dozen active nightclubs and music joints within its one square mile.  Although it has been commemorated in songs, poems, and in Maya Angelou's "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings," few people today know of the rich musical history of the Fillmore. This is because it virtually vanished, abruptly and thoroughly, due to redevelopment in the 1960s.

Fillmore Then - Billie Holiday singing at the Champagne Supper Club; Dexter Gordon hanging out at Bop City; Dizzie Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Chet Baker and John Coltrane all dropping in for jam sessions. A nostalgic snapshot of the New York or Chicago jazz scene? No: this was San Francisco's Fillmore District in its musical heyday. The Fillmore in the 1940s and 1950s was a swinging, eclectic, and integrated neighbourhood, streets full of restaurants, pool halls, theatres, and stores - many minority-owned. It boasted two-dozen active nightclubs and music joints within its one square mile. Although it has been commemorated in songs, poems, and in Maya Angelou's "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings," few people today know of the rich musical history of the Fillmore. This is because it virtually vanished, abruptly and thoroughly, due to redevelopment in the 1960s.

The jewel by the sea may very well be looking like a colorless diamond than a rich emerald shortly, as black folks increasingly leave.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2009 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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