Imagining a better city
It's almost impossible to
overestimate the unimportance of
-- John Logue
I will tell myself this as I panic each morning about what life and QUEST holds for me. I am that proverbial yo-yo that is constantly going up and down and sometimes round and round like a dog chasing its own tail.
So many positive things lately.
Proctors did call and we are renegotiating; let's hope it works out this time. I would really, really like to do this. I am on fire to play the piano this winter.
My husband and I are slowly starting to think about adopting another dog. Only thing is when one says yes the other says no. Ok -- now I am a merry-go-round. I can become a complete carnival as long as it does not include "whack a mole."
More good news include 3 new board members, a rent-a-party program that is truly amazing. Pam Brucker as a terrific girl Friday and honestly that does not even begin to describe what she can do. (Besides make me laugh) Raymond coming back after 8 years to run a hip-hop and rap program with the end product being an Internet radio show. And a new dance volunteer who graduated from Purchase. These are riches indeed. This of course does not stop the main issue of money-money-money. I keep waiting for the proverbial miracle as I trudge from door to door doing my begging routine.
I look at this statement and want to yell "bah-humbug."
"Faith which does not doubt is dead faith."
-- Miguel De Unamano
But hot air does not pay winter heating bills. Thanksgiving was simply lovely and as usual left-overs and a second turkey went down to the woman's shelter. It is dark early and I feel winter's night wrapping around me.
One of my young girls ran away and is now living at Equinox in Albany. She does not want to go home. I am worried and concerned for her; I saw this coming and searched all kinds of avenues for her to no avail. Again there are multiple children still living at that home address. We need free family counseling at sites throughout the city, I would gladly offer up space at QUEST.
Our Lady Frog died yesterday we had her for 2 1/2 years raised from a poliwog that did not morph completely by cold weather time. We brought her in -- installed her in a 40-gallon tank complete with waterfall meadow and heat lamp. We actually grew grass for the crickets to hide in and tried our very best to give nature a boost. She (frog) was deformed -- missing a foot, crooked legs-etc. And yesterday after many frantic calls to any one and everyone her life force ran out. We will miss her spring calls in the night as well as the voices of the crickets singing.
So we are left with Ernie, who in the absence of any fellow creature has taken to adopting rubber bands. The large industrial kind which he carries around and dances with in the moonlight; today he challenged a large stuffed teddy to a duel snorting and pawing the ground to absolutely no avail.
Whimsicality aside, can someone explain to me why the city in its wisdom is closing the traffic enforcement building on Albany Street? It will be going up for sale, according to police chiefs. Traffic enforcement or code enforcement, it was a presence much needed on the Hill. Will this building just become another boarded up site like so many other buildings in the vicinity? I would like to see a movement arise to keep it for community policing, which was its original intent when it was built oh so many years ago.
It seems as if community policing is a wish never to be fulfilled in Schenectady. It seems as if the streets are on fire and there's no one left to put out the flames. The prostitutes on State Street -- I watch people duck into the house for a quickie. That's why we leave them condoms -- we have become like a city in Hanoi where everything is for sale. Sex, drugs and no more rock and roll.
Parts of this city are wide open and not just at night but 24/7. And the children watch and learn, and the teens form gangs and organize and it just keeps going down -- and spreading. I wish we had a map that followed the encroachment of evil. The stain on this city is growing larger and larger. Think back to 10 years ago -- now look at today. Are we really moving forward? Soon downtown will also be infected. I know of one local establishment that is being used as a late night gang joint. Are we going to become a gated community like Union College?
When I was a teen in this city we could walk right through the Union College Campus - from Nott St. to Nott Terrace, and the Union Gardens -- which are terrific -- were there for everyone. Walk -- did I say walk? Hell, you could drive through. I remember that to retain their private land and keep it private, all the gates had to close, no access, one day a year. Now I have kids sent to me for community service because they were picked up by campus security just for cutting through the college. Mark that one down for extreme change. The American Patriots, the fathers and grandfather of our nation would be appalled. Did you know Union was the first planned and designed campus in the nation? Now it too is a gated community.
Only now I see it as the worse sections of the city being shut off from the rest of the citizens, a reverse of the gated process. A ghetto being created as it had been for the unwanted during the centuries, be it the Jews or Catholics, the blacks, the Japanese during WWII and now the new focus on immigration. Are we as a people going to buy into this? It seems in many ways we already have.
I was in Saratoga on Sunday, a bustling, thriving, vibrant city. Why them and not us? Retail everywhere. Grand old hotels spiffed up and re-opened. Rocking chairs and portable heat dispensers on porches with actual people rocking in them. Street buskers everywhere -- where are our street players and musicians? Are we legislating against that too? It takes people to make a city human. Masses of humanity talking and walking and shopping and sitting on outdoor benches and buying vended outdoor food.
No more big corporate offices please -- they are ugly and offer absolutely nothing to anyone but more of the same cookie-cutter, lookalike, mind-numbing landscape. A city needs to breathe -- to vibrate -- to sing -- to skip a little bit -- it needs to make you feel you're off on an adventure.
Small or large it must be unique and pull you in. Why isn't the library on State St., and the museum? What good is a museum tucked away and hidden? Where is the sculpture? We have many fine artists in this town -- where is their work? Where are the music stores and the outdoor concerts? And a block party wouldn't hurt. Let's have the Schenectady Symphony play right in the middle of State St. No one is ever there at night any way. How about a giant square dance night? A sing-a-long with hot cocoa? Every city in the area has an art night and a green market. Where's our uniqueness? What makes Schenectady special? Who are we?
I have a question about the giant garage just finished behind the police traffic division. Question answered, owned by S.I.C.M., and they offered to let us store stuff in there. Now those are great neighbors. We could certainly use more like that.
Last night T-Quan said something that really caught my ears and heart. He said that he'd been thinking that when he grew up he'd like to drive a school bus. He has never shown any interest in even driving a car, so I thought this was kind of odd. Then he told me that he wants to drive a bus that would bring kids to QUEST and drive them home. He who is 12 years old is already wondering how he can serve his community.
And though I'm sure he's never read it he reminds me of the hero in "The Catcher In The Rye" who wanted to stand in the field next to the cliff and catch the children before they fell over the edge. And isn't that what it's all about? Catching the children before they fall off the edge of the world. Before they join a gang, or start drinking, or using, or living in the streets. Before the world grabs them and shakes them and drops them not caring if they ever get up again.
T-Quan -- you are my hero. And yes we are going to get the pizza today and you can walk in and carry it out so you can help feed the world-at least a small part of it. Our part, the world in our small back yard.
It is mathematical fact that
the casting of this pebble from my
hand alters the center of gravity
of the universe.
-- Thomas Carlyle