Belle Reve

This is an old neighborhood in Denver. (“Old” by American standards goes back to about the 1890s in Colorado. It ain’t Rome.) But when I daydream about places I love these are the kinds of neighborhoods and buildings that come to mind. These are modest yet sturdy buildings that were constructed incrementally over time by … Continue reading Belle Reve

Afterburn

Here in California we’ve just received our first rain since last winter after another brutal round of massive forest fires. Our Mediterranean style climate cycles from a long dry hot period to a few short cool wet winter months. October is our most fire prone time of year. It’s hot, the earth is bone dry, … Continue reading Afterburn

The Stockton Sandwich

I just spent a few days in Stockton, California visiting old family friends. They’re a recently retired Lutheran pastor and his wife who relocated from Southern California and returned to their hometown. Being lifelong members of the church has many benefits, but making lots of money isn’t one of them. They run a lean operation … Continue reading The Stockton Sandwich

The Olde Country

My great grandparents arrived in America over a century ago from Sicily. They were dirt poor, uneducated, swarthy, and considered undesirable by the ruling Protestant standard of the day. Sicilians weren’t much liked by other Italians to the north back home either. They wandered the country from Alabama to Chicago and eventually settled in Boerum … Continue reading The Olde Country

Memphis Bluff

I was chastised by one of my readers for focusing exclusively on the negative aspects of Memphis without depicting the flowering of some of the historic neighborhoods. Evidently they’re much better now than just a few years ago. So I’ll highlight one of the select spots in town that are currently flourishing after decades of … Continue reading Memphis Bluff

Marsupial Urbanism

Does this landscape look familiar? There are places like this all over the country. Half forgotten neighborhoods populated by vacant parking lots and semi abandoned buildings can be found everywhere. The tide of history has left them behind. People don’t want to live here. Folks with resources can afford to be elsewhere. The more property … Continue reading Marsupial Urbanism

Legends Park

In recent years many failed public housing projects have been redeveloped into mixed income HOPE VI neighborhoods. The theory goes that concentrated physically isolated low income housing projects trapped people in poverty and kept families dependent on government aid from generation to generation. By integrating different kinds of people at a variety of economic levels … Continue reading Legends Park

Solvent Savings

Memphis is full of commemorative plaques that declare the spot where so-and-so once lived or operated a successful business, or where a prominent religious or cultural center was erected. These were genuine millionaires, bankers, insurance executives, war heroes, political figures, scholars, and philanthropists. I learned a lot about the trajectory of the city and its … Continue reading Solvent Savings