Limbambulators Unite! Walking + Reading to save a city
Writer Lee Klein in swink discusses walking about Philadelphia while reading and suggests such actions can have a positive impact on our cities. On the romantic side for sure (and the essay devolves into politics near the end), but important in this sense: People’s physical presence matters. Their positive presence matters. Their intellectual presence matters.
Some are called to build. Some are called to preach. Some are called to walk and read (be it Tolstoy, Shakespeare, The Bible or some other work ).
Consider this: instead of tooling down the street, cursing myself, my neighbors, and a malevolent God; instead of smoking mentholated cigarettes, expelling alcoholic flatulence at great volume from both of my bodily ends, littering for sport, leering at Catholic school girls; instead of doing anything remotely unbecoming of civil humanity like that, I’m walking and holding War and Peace. I’m silently reading to myself, not even moving my lips, not impeding on anyone, not shoving the big book too deeply into anyone’s eyespace, not demeaning anyone with unsolicited offers to do them good. …
The overriding question isn’t really whether saving the city via walking and reading is a possibility; it’s more about whether it’s a necessity. Let’s see: lots of unemployment, more than enough murder, corruption, racism, and a statistically unquantifiable vibe that seems to distrust anything “intellectual.” But at least it has a solid folk hero in Rocky. Maybe Stallone, Herzog, and I are on the same page? We’re interested in overcoming ridiculous odds. …
we’re talking about the ecstatic beauty of an impossible act, of saving a city through walking and reading. All I want to do is humbly transmit my love and respect for literature—for the thoughts and worlds transmitted within those books that relate to the real world—in a city and a cultural climate in America that often seem in need of some serious freakin’ salvation.
Architect and urban planner Jaime Lerner, writing in the Harvard Business Review, obviously loves cities and believe even the most run-down have potential to become vibrant communities again. I appreciate his interest in engaging the residents who live there now about what they want and need, not some future cohort of people attracted to rising value or gentrification.
Many cities are losing the battle against degradation and violence because they settled for the view that difficulties were too big and could only be dealt with after all planning instruments and financial resources were in place. …
There are three fundamental issues that are key to the good quality of urban life: sustainability, mobility and sociodiversity.
Before I die project in New Orleans
With a little paint, imagination and work, artist, designer and urban planner Candy Chang converted a boarded-up eyesore into a public space that people in the neighborhood could use to express their thoughts and dreams.
One month and seven hours of intense stenciling later and it’s up! With a lot of support from old and new friends, I turned the side of an abandoned house in my neighborhood into a giant chalkboard where residents can write on the wall and remember what is important to them. Before I Die transforms neglected spaces into constructive ones where we can learn the hopes and aspirations of the people around us.
If you’d like to discuss these or any other ideas for Hartford, pull me (Matthew) aside. I’m curious what you read in public. What you’d like to see in the North End’s future. What you’d like to do before you die.
Danielle from Husky Sport recently coordinated job shadowing for some of the kids who attend the teen program at the Green House.
Josh and Sasean went with Steve, and among other things, scrutinized important looking blueprints.
Lexus and Amanda spent the day at ESPN with Matt. No, they’re not famous, yet, but they did get on TV during the taping of SportsNation.
If you get a chance, ask the young folks what they thought, and more importantly, what they aspire to professionally.