Without a map of where we really want to go, we’re unlikely to end up where we really want to be.
To some degree, any downtown (outside of major metropolises) is a delicate eco-system of finance, businesses, livability, and functionality. To always defer to the “market” as if any and every new investment will save us and never damage us, is to ignore history’s many examples. The “market” will usually commit to a project development direction for primarily financial reasons, and sometimes downtowns benefit, but more often they get hammered by unintended, even unconsidered consequences, through actions taken by both public initiatives and “the market” : Lancaster Square, the former YMCA at Queen and Frederick, are a few examples.
When Lancaster’s c. 1923 Griest building was first built, it put so much new large office space on the market that it sucked most occupants out of the ~ 40 yr old Woolworth bldg in the same block. Eventually, as it declined and after a fire on upper stories, the historic Woolworth bldg with its domed towers, roof terraces, and grand commercial scale was demolished. We got a “5&10 cent store” there in its place; not a great addition to the city architecturally, but at least an active spot. What we got as a replacement office building, however, was a high-quality piece of architecture in the Griest bldg. Loss of the old can sometimes be worth it, IF (big, bold “if”) the city gets new architectural and urban development quality of equal or added value out of the new design and construction. This was the case with the Griest building, but is it the case with the new parking garage at Queen and Chestnut ? Better than a surface parking lot, yes. But what really could have gone there, on such a valuable, pivotal corner that was just a parking lot for so long? That was never really explored, and it c/should have been before we let anything get built there that we’ll have to live with for the next 50-100 years!
To explore and determine this, we must take pro-active design steps years ahead of project proposals that will come from “the market,” so that we can set some agreed-upon basics in place about what sort of PLACE we WANT our downtown to be.
Without this advance planning on our part, “the market” will continue to decide what it thinks it can afford to do, and project sponsors will expect that we should just accept and approve their plans, time and time again: the new CVS replacing the National Register-listed historic tobacco warehouse at Prince and Lemon is a case in point. Without a city development agenda and a set of planning and urban design parameters, especially the large institutions will decide on their own what to build and where. Hospitals, Colleges, Banks and others have all served up their own designs which they’ve developed from their own perspectives. Without any considered alternatives to suggest or any development standards in place beforehand, the city has always been unable to advocate for anything different than what’s been proposed.
Without some basic design and development parameters in place, we will not influence “the market” to produce anything more or different than the safe, the short-term, and the predictable — usually, this has meant demolishing the old and building the least costly new structure possible. Look around downtown at what we’ve created by relying solely on “the market” to design the center of our community for the past 40 years, and largely this is what you’ll see. With a few bright exceptions of well-adapted older structures and one or two new buildings, we have built architecture that largely detracts from our local sense of place and character, instead of adding real value to it.
With some well-informed and co-ordinated design forethought, we could do a LOT better. Charleston, SC is a good example of doing it better; so is Annapolis; so is Bellefonte, PA; Doylestown, PA.
This is not impossible to do, Lancaster just hasn’t taken it on yet; and each year we defer, we lose more and more of the character that makes the City of Lancaster someplace special. For the good of our future quality of life (and this is important investment and property-value advice as well as architectural and community advice), we should be working on this NOW — it is still not too late ! And, there are many of us who have the skills and knowledge needed to help, if we would only be asked by those in charge, and then also listened to with care and concern for the community’s future.
For two and a half decades now, Community Heritage Partners has been distinguished as a firm that advocates for better design and better environmental decision-making. This year, we’ve been pleased to see that our Lancaster County Planning Commission and quite a few other professional colleagues of ours have picked up the cause ! They’re calling it “The Year of Design,” and one of the phrases we’re using a lot is: “Design Matters”
Each of us in our own ways influences the quality of what our region and our communities will look like, feel like, and how they will function in our future. So, it’s really worth thinking about this as part of the way we choose to live our lives.
For design professionals, the influence we can have on our landscapes and townscapes can be significant. For substantial property owners, even more so. As well, financial lenders, builders, developers, land surveyors, attorneys, and local public officials, and other consultants of many types can all have enormous effect on how the place we all call “home” will end up.
But, even if you’re none of these, the choices you make also influence what this place will be like in the near and longer-term future. If you choose to live within walking distance of your job and other potential employers, for example, you may use a car much less than your neighbors; this may even save you money and allow you to use your earnings in alternative ways. If your family can live with only one car, or maybe even without a car, this can produce a significant addition to your personal wealth over a period of years. Really, it can: $7,000/yr X 8 yrs @ just 2% interest/yr = $ 61,282. Lancaster is one of those few places in America where this is still possible. and fewer cars could mean fewer parking lots, which might leave a few more historic buildings in place for the future.
If you choose to live in an older building, you’ll be putting some of your money, whether you rent or own, back into an investment that was made long ago. Just think, if you were still putting a few hundred dollars into a savings account that your great-grandparents started 70 years ago and that they consistently contributed to, how much that fund might be worth ! An older building is something like that for the broader community — an investment that keeps on saving for the future, if we continue to contribute wisely to it. Fortunately, we still have thousands and thousands of these to choose from here. In many communities, the older architecture is mostly gone and the choices are fewer.
We enjoy an environment where many of us who live here in Lancaster, and most who visit, seem to recognize that we are surrounded by natural beauty, architectural heritage, a rich culture of tradition in decorative arts, and the beauty and economic stability of an agricultural landscape — where it still survives, anyway. This is something that exists uniquely here, and it’s what makes many who come here feel like they want to stay; like they’ve come back home; because our predecessors (until the last 30 years) were frugal and a little careful about the way they changed things. It wasn’t necessarily an aesthetic judgment that kept them on that path, it was good old economic common sense, that led them to retain and reuse things; to build them right the first time, so their great grandchildren could live there someday. Today, there is a “fix-it” culture that still survives, here and there. And as the future seems to be developing, it may well be the “fixers” who survive and live better than those who tend to throw things away year-in and year-out, buying new again and again.
We should all think carefully about this the next time we’re considering spending money on something — will the expenditure really get us what we need, or might it possibly take away something we actually can’t afford to lose ?
We’ll bring you more news about the Year of Design as the year develops. Meantime, give this some thought, and take a look at this:
Recently, we’ve been thinking about tackling this word “sustainability” — which is everywhere these days – to try and clarify what it means, and what WE mean when we use it. CHP has been pleased to be a founding member of the Susquehanna Sustainable Business Network, www.susquehannasbn.org and we hope all local, independent businesses will join us in promoting and strengthening a local, livable economy for our hometown region. While we’re at it, we’re trying to grasp what “sustainability” really means for our present and our future. Hmmmm…?
Fortunately, the CEO of one of our partnership organizations, 10,000 Friends of PA, recently offered an article that does this nicely, and with particular focus on a number of challenges that all of us in PA might find a little too close for complete comfort. With our thanks, here’s what he had to say (with our highlights for emphasis):
“Sustainability” is one of the great buzzwords of our time. Ever since the U.N.’s Brundtland Commission issued a call for “sustainable development” back in 1983, the term has been applied to an ever widening array of issues. Today we have sustainable agriculture, sustainable forestry, sustainable energy, sustainable business, sustainable design, sustainable tourism, sustainable living… you name it. At 10,000 Friends we and our colleagues are talking a lot about sustainable communities these days. But what exactly do we mean by that?
The original idea behind sustainability – meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs – is simple and appealing. But like all overused words, “sustainability” risks losing its meaning. Whenever people start talking about sustainable-something-or-other, I find myself wondering if the term is more than just feel-good jargon.
Recently, though, I’ve been gaining a new appreciation for the concept, simply because so many things right now seem unsustainable. The Commonwealth is facing what Governor Rendell has described as a “fiscal tsunami” created in large part by an unsustainable increase in pension obligations. Nearly all of our cities are in a similar predicament, with astronomical bills for pensions and other expenses coming due at a time when coffers are already nearly empty. And the pension crisis is just the straw that’s breaking the camel’s back. For decades, Pennsylvania’s cities and older communities have been caught in an unsustainable cycle of decline – raising taxes to compensate for eroding tax bases, in turn encouraging more flight to the suburbs and more loss of tax base. The current municipal tax system, with its reliance on property taxes, is proving itself unsustainable, and many cities are on the verge of bankruptcy. At the same time, the bills from decades of unsustainably low levels of investment in infrastructure are coming due.
Our older communities are the victims of various unsustainable trends that are now hitting their limits. Does this mean we’re heading toward an Armageddon of collapsing communities and governmental structures? I don’t think so. I have enough faith in our system to believe that somehow we’ll muddle through and avert catastrophe.
But it does mean that change is coming, one way or another. Our tax system, our patterns of spending and investment, our delivery of public services, and our structures of local governance all will change because they’ll have to change. Either we’ll take action and change them ourselves, instituting reforms that will move our communities toward a desirable future. Or change will be thrust upon us in ways we don’t like.
Viewed in this light, the concept of sustainable communities becomes a lot clearer. Sustainability isn’t just a meaningless buzzword or a vague, utopian dream. It’s about taking the steps we need to take to keep our communities moving forward, even in hard times like these.
Acting President & CEO - 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania
Thanks to Ed and 10,000 Friends for that helpful background and perspective.
As we’ve often said to clients and community organizations:
If we really want to hold on to what we truly value about this special part of the world, we may need to change some aspects of how we’ve been doing things for the last 300 years.
We may need to “change” just to keep things the same.
Some great new news from the PA Historical and Museum Commission and Thaddeus Stevens Technical College, right here in the city of Lancaster:
1772 Foundation awards $40,000 grant to program
The 1772 Foundation, based in Connecticut, has awarded a $40,000 grant to the Preservation Trades Technology Program.
The grant provides funding for the development of the final three courses of the curriculum, Painting Historic Buildings, Dealing with Environmental Concerns in Historic Buildings and Thermal Retrofitting Historic Buildings. Funds are also provided for instructor training and development, course materials, library materials, scholarships and marketing.
“We are very excited to now have the resources to complete the build-out of this program,” according to Barry Loveland, chair of the advisory committee for the Preservation Trades Technology Program. “This is also strong validation from a national preservation-oriented foundation that this program is worthwhile investing in.”
“They were extremely impressed with the college, the enthusiasm and the support we receive from our partners,” according to Allen Tate, Director of Development for Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology.
The Preservation Trades Technology program is the only program of its kind in Pennsylvania that provides training to incumbent building trades workers, and students and others interested in the preservation and traditional trades.
“Even though this grant is a tremendous boost, the program is still in need of financial support. We are looking into other grant opportunities and also encourage individual and corporate donations,” said Loveland..
If you wish to make a donation, please contact Allen Tate, Director of Development, at 717-391-7285 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Preservation Trades Technology program is featured in an article on the Traditional Building Magazine website at www.traditional-building.com/News/News02-05-10.html
(Actually this was announced in February, but we’re betting not many of our readers out there really heard about it yet.)
This is a GREAT step in the right direction, supporting a training program that will benefit Lancaster and historic buildings for years and generations to come !
For a city with the largest National Register Historic District in America within it’s core — nearly 15,000 buildings (Did you know that ?!? Bigger than Charleston, SC, bigger than Boston, Philadelphia, and all the others !), we are far behind in developing well-trained preservation-oriented crafts-people of all sorts. True — we have some greatly skilled builders, artisans and crafters, but only a few really have the background and skill-training to use the proper techniques and materials our many historic buildings deserve.
Many folks don’t realize that if someone is a “carpenter” he may not necessarily know how to work with and retain historic woodwork, and to retain and repair it in place to survive on the building for another hundred years, rather than just throwing it away and installing something new that sort of looks like the old material. The same goes for masons with brick and stone repair and mortar repointing. Though we love working with many fine builders in our region, we can attest that for three decades now working in and around Lancaster, we’ve been listening to the majority of tradesmen say, “Well, we never do it that way;” when we show them drawings and explain to them the best-practice preservation approach (which should be used on most any building over 75 years old) for repointing bricks and mortar, repairing plaster cracks, or fixing a wood window sash, sill, or frame.
Also, for property owners, even just learning about these skills — if not becoming experts in the actual execution — can mean the difference between genuinely improving your building (our buildings) and permanently damaging it by unknowingly allowing unqualified builders to work on it.
If you care about how our region looks architecturally, and about its livability; if you’re concerned about retaining our older buildings, and if you think keeping our economy and our construction industry “local” is important for our future, we hope you will support the state’s efforts at Stevens College — by taking a course there, by directing a craftsman you know to try the program, or by contributing anything you can to the cause. Check it out at that web-link and email address above.
An essential ingredient in city livability for all people is conveniently available, good quality, modestly-priced, fresh and local foods, within walking distance. Expressly Local Food is open every day, weekdays and weekends, throughout the year, at 213 West King Street, Lancaster, PA. You can get in touch at: email@example.com – or call them at 717-295-1850.
It’s a bit surprising to realize that this new grocery store in downtown Lancaster is the only fresh and local, downtown grocery store in all of Lancaster County. The city of Lancaster (pop. 56,000) also has the year-round historic “Central Market” and the seasonal and winter-market at the historic “Eastern Market.” A few surrounding towns have small, weekly farmers’ markets, in season. And, fortunately, many residents with cars can find roadside and farm stands across the region during the growing season. But everywhere else in Lancaster County –a metro-region of more than one-half million people with numerous historic and attractive smaller downtowns and villages — residents must go to suburban supermarkets to buy most of their food.
The grocers of Expressly Local Food and the developer/architect Community Heritage Partners have brought the best-quality foods and other agricultural products direct from the finest farmland on the planet — Lancaster County — to the heart of historic downtown Lancaster ! (We’re all kind of excited about it.)
Our firm associates, staffers, and I have all been committed downtowners over the 25 years of our business existence. We’ve contributed to the start and development of many good things in many places, wherever our projects have taken us, but especially in our home base of Lancaster.
Some highlights: the 1977 Lancaster Design Guide was city-published to help property owners and commercial tenants understand how best to improve their architecture and signage; we nominated and placed Lancaster’s Southern Market on the National Register in 1986 — against the protests of some; we supported the designation of a 19-property historic warehouse National Register district in the 1980s; we advocated for a decade in favor of the city-wide Historic City of Lancaster National Historic District, finally placed on the National Register in 1999/2001 — comprising some 14,000 buildings — one of the largest NR districts in the nation; we’ve contributed decades and thousands of dollars worth of architectural and preservation services to the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County, as well as personal board service to the Trust for more than 15 years; community service on Lancaster City Council, as the City’s delegate to the County Planning Commission, and we helped co-found the Friends of Central Market in 1997, and the Susquehanna Sustainable Business Network (SSBN) in 2006.
When the opportunity arose in 2008, to make the leap into our own downtown real estate development venture, growing out of our intention to expand and relocate our design studio to the heart of downtown, we decided the time for the next level of commitment had arrived. On the way to improving our own space, Community Heritage Partners saw this as a time to showcase our skills and demonstrate what could be done — if we could do it, then why not others ?
More than a year into our property search, the 200 block of West King Street spoke to us with an obvious need to rebuild community confidence and investment right there — beautiful but deteriorating historic architecture within sight of the new hotel and convention center — still building at that time, and just paces away from other established and growing downtown success stories — but somehow cut-off from the economic promise so evident, just the other side of Water and Prince Streets.
Years of study and practical experience with the projects and aspirations of our clients, had bred in us a recogniton that downtowns do not flourish by entertainment, business, and styling alone — there must be “bread” to go along with the “circus.” Downtowns need commerce ? — yes; safety ? – yes; good PR ? — yes; but they also need people who will proudly claim the city as their own place, people who will live there and care for it, occupy it, tend to its affairs, advocate for its place in regional decision-making — in sum, people who will LIVE downtown, not because they have no other options, but because they VALUE the life they can live there, and they see the value-added experience of city living as downtown’s competitive distinction with the suburbs and more rural places.
So, with all that background, what could become of a storefront-church used just 5 hours a week on the main street of one of the more vital surviving historic downtowns in all of Pennsylvania ? The space had been a vibrant commercial storeroom selling hardware, dry goods, equipment, and household needs from at least the 1870s until 1960. Since 1912 it was Beittel’s Racket Store, selling everything from nuts and bolts to household furnshings and even pets. But, tracking the decline of downtown living and demographics through the 1960s and ’70s, it transitioned into the local Thrift Shop, and 15 years later into the church, which occupied the space (and cared well for it, providing some genuine stability for the block in those years) until a year after we bought the property. We decided then to exchange the church for something more active on a daily basis — a use that would not only draw more rent than once-a-week meeting space, but that would provide vital service to downtown living, and would begin to restore a broad base of foot traffic to a block that many had unconsciously learned to avoid on their daily errand paths.
NEWSFLASH: To really LIVE in a place people need easy access to good, affordable and fresh FOOD !
Just a block away, Lancaster’s Central Market stands as the national example of the foundational value of food provisioning at the heart of a community — a lesson that Lancaster is still learning from and demonstrating to the rest of America. Sure, the market’s fun and interesting, a cultural icon, destination, experience…but it is above all ESSENTIAL to the city’s vitality for its food provisioning value to residents as well as downtown workers. And, out of that essential nature comes the foundational strength for the stability it offers the downtown.
Would we dare compete with Central Market, offering similar foods so nearby, and might we put the market at some risk ? Again, our downtown development experience reassured us that complementary competition adds value in any shopping destination — this is why we often see shops of similar type ganged together at a central crossroads or hub of commerce. More than one provider of any product or service marks the difference between a store or a restaurant and a destination of resources.
Into this framework stepped Expressly Local Food, LLC. In their 3rd year as independent fresh and local food purveyors, partners Kharran Cattell and Cheryl Young were seeking a full-time store location. Building on their 3 season incubation period at Lancaster’s Eastern Market, and winter months selling from Kharran’s front porch, they were feeling ready to become shopkeepers, to have a place where their customers could regularly find the best in Lancaster County fresh and value-added agricultural products. Convinced that a key component of downtown quality of life is access to real, wholesome foods that could feed a family, our development company, Community Design Works, Inc., put our storeroom and Expressly Local’s food savvy together. A new shop space was designed by Community Heritage Partners around Expressly Local’s needs in the old “Racket Store.”
This coming week, we are all celebrating their Grand Opening ! (Though they’ve been in and operating since late October.) The mayor will cut the ribbon, our lender, Community First Fund, will mark the event by announcing more news of continuing micro-enterprise lending, and lots of loyal customers will stop by to share the glow of this achievement.
As we see it this achievement belongs to us ALL. Yes, we’re the developers, architects, owners and operators of this property, but our grocer-tenants and the quality of their approach and products are a big part of the genius behind this scheme — more than shopkeepers and salespeople — they know good farming, good food, good eating, good cooking, and good value. Their customers come away with more than vegetables, fruits and meats; they learn who’s producing these foods, where they’re grown, how they can use these sometimes unfamiliar products — spaghetti squash, kale, parsnips, and more. And they get some renewed spirit for city living. All included in the modest cost of the groceries !
Lancaster Buy Fresh Buy Local is helping all of us stretch beyond our usual reach to discover what’s all around us in Lancaster County, and where to find it — the best food from the best farmland on the planet !
Community First Fund is helping us bring community life and commerce back to a block that has been trapped in a downward spiral for the past 50 years or more. We couldn’t do any of this without the intrepid residents, downtown workers, local buyers, and “intentional eaters” of Lancaster who are investing some of their household food budget into this new place. We appreciate that on-going act of commitment to buying local and buying downtown.
Today, thanks to Community First Fund and their investors, thanks to Expressly Local Food, and to nearly two years of our work and commitment, people living down the block, around the corner, or working at the courthouse and other downtown businesses just up the street, are coming to this block on daily or weekly errands with increasingly regularity. We’re hearing surprised observations about the beautiful architecture that survives there; they’re noticing the neighboring used furniture stores. Some ask when we might open a restaurant nearby, or maybe a cafe at least.
We have more undeveloped space above the store (3 floors), and an entire empty restaurant and 3-story historic inn and tavern building right next door. As community interest and confidence grow, so will reinvestment, so will our ability to renovate and re-occupy more underutilized space, and with the right sort of development decision-making and community support, so will everyone’s quality of life.
Expressly Local Food is open 7 days a week: Weekdays from 7:45 AM until 7 PM, Saturdays until 6 PM, and Sundays from 9 AM until 2 PM.
See you there !
If you’re looking for us beyond the web these days — that is, for our physical-geographic location –, we’re no longer where we were for the last 24 years……Come and visit us now at our NEW LOCATION: 214 West Grant Street, Lancaster, PA.
Yes, we’ve finally moved ! Our phone and fax numbers remain the same, as do our emails and web address.
We’ve shifted our working space from the western edge of downtown to the very heart of Lancaster’s central business district, and we LOVE it ! A quick and interesting walk to everything important in the center city — all between 2 and 15 minutes. From ice cream and coffee, to banking, to the county courthouse, city hall, the train station (OK, maybe more like 25 minutes, but easy), to two active farmers’ markets, the YMCA, F&M College, lots of restaurants, and to many of our project sites. Read More…
Lots and lots of talk these days — and advertising about saving money, lowering our energy use, reducing one’s carbon footprint. It’s everywhere you turn. Oops … Sorry…here it is again!
Almost endless information from everyone who has some suggestion or new product that will do this for us. Lots of “opportunities” to “save money” out there in the marketplace, to supposedly help the earth and yourself. Everything now seems to be “green” or “smart,” from cars to checking accounts…sort of like how everything was “all natural” or “lite” about 25 years ago. Just a little bit overwhelming, and a little bit confusing.
It’s occurred to us that a few basics could be laid down that would help everyone improve the situation with just a few relatively simple, inexpensive steps. We don’t all have to start building straw bale houses, trading in our conventional cars for the latest $ 35,000 hybrid, or investing thousands right away in the latest solar products, to see some environmental benefits and cost savings.
Try these simple steps for a start:
1. Light Bulbs
If you haven’t already, just replace all your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents as soon as possible. These bulbs are a bit pricey at about $ 5 to $10 each, but the payback period for this small investment is only about 6 months to a year in reduced electricity bills. Just like that! If you don’t do anything else, do this now, and it will help.
2. Roof Insulation
If your roof or attic is not fully insulated, that should be done before anything else in your house is considered. Don’t worry about drafty windows or uninsulated walls if your roof is still uninsulated, because the vast majority of your house’s heat loss is right through the roof. So, do that first, and worry about the other possibilities later.
If you’re interested, we’ll have more specifics on this, and more about windows in particular, in the future.
3. HVAC Systems
If you have forced hot air heat or AC, make sure you’re checking and changing your air filters on a regular cyclical basis — every 3 to 6 months is typical, depending on the system and time of year. Sounds boring, compared to buying some new digital monitoring gadget, but regularly replacing dirty filters reduces the work your system has to do to move air through your living space, and in that way it saves electricity and also reduces wear and tear on your fans and motors. New filters are inexpensive; motor repairs and equipment replacements never are.
4. Walk (-don’t drive-) to shop, and BUY LOCALLY
If you live where you can walk to the local food store or farmers market (if you’re lucky enough to have either), walk and buy what you can there instead of driving to the nearest suburban sprawl plaza development. If you’re worried you might have to pay a little more at the local shop than you would out at the suburban plaza, remember to factor in that every time you turn your car on, you’ve just spent another $1 to $2; money that could go to a local merchant instead. Rather than continuing to give your money to the oil and car companies and the multi-national supermarket corporations, invest it in a locally-owned business; you’ll see the effect of that expenditure in the form of a better-kept commercial street, and more support for your local municipal tax base rather than that of the township next door. Your money might even help fund a refurbished old commercial building or help pay for a new sign at that business made by a local artist or craftsman; you could even be partly responsible, along with your neighbors, for the continuing agricultural use of nearby farmland, producing food for you rather than getting paved over for more real estate development.
Despite all the confusing reportage and ads we hear every day, it’s not all that hard to get a little “greener” IF we stop and think about where we really want to see our money go, where we want our food to come from, and who we’d rather do business with. Carbon offsets and solar roofs can help if you’re likely to spend your money that way, but how many of us are ? If you can do it, great!
But even 50 million of us replacing light bulbs or shopping down the street could do a lot more than a handful of folks going solar.
The answer is often closer to home than we might think!
“Daddy, did you know that church was built in 1853 ?” a boyish voice called out in enthusiastic wonderment as I was crossing the street last Saturday.
Glancing back as father and son headed down the sidewalk, I noticed the carved cornerstone the boy had spotted as they approached the corner tower of the old stone church in our neighborhood. It was just about eye level for a 7 or 8 year old, and made some good conversation for them, I hoped.
The boy noticed something significant on his walk about town, because the builders of the old structure placed a date carved in an oversize stone where he could see it. The architecture those builders and congregants left to the future spoke out to him, giving him some information to tell his dad: history, a sense of time passing, of long ago, of memory; clearly he had a remarkable sense of then and now. 1853 was a long time ago for an 8 year-old…even for a 58 year-old. Read More…
It’s a Wonderful [City] Life in Winter !
Today’s the first official day of winter, and this weekend we got quite a sampling of what’s to come. A significant snowfall always makes me aware again of the access and community advantages we enjoy living in the heart of our small city, compared with life in the surrounding suburbs and rural areas.
My wife and I look forward to walking about town to do our errands when the snow is flying and accumulating, because this is when cars and trucks are less dominant on the streets, and we’re just as close to all our needs as we always are. While thousands of others who can’t manage daily errands and reach destinations, are dealing with driveway snow-plowing and navigating treacherous roadways just a few miles away from us, we are free to walk the sidewalks and streets with less car and truck traffic than usual. This makes the city something of a “winter wonderland” where neighbors can get to stores, banks, restaurants, and cultural events without moving their cars or thinking about a place to park. The reduced vehicle traffic even allows us to walk right in the streets if we choose, and the reduced and snow-muffled traffic noise is also a blessing. Read More…