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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tragic Disconnects

Do we have Disconnects in Communication or just plain old negligence?

Disconnect #1 While listening to one of the presenters on the October 22, 2012 Master Plan Hearing, I was taken aback. One of the concerns of her group was that Palisade Avenue itself was dangerous. I thought, what is she talking about. The truth of the matter is that we must all give a little, including yours truly. Last night, after dark, a group of us decided to walk the avenue. We were quite honestly looking for the Campaign Headquarters of a political candidate that is supposed to be located near Wells Fargo. We did not find it. On the way back, I started counting the street lights that were in need of bulb replacement or repair. I counted 33 lights out on both sides of Palisade Avenue beginning west of the railroad tracks down to the monument.  These lights include the tall traditional street lights and the short quaint and classic accent lamps that are mounted on the green poles. You  know the ones on which they hang the Christmas lights and decorations.  I made a mental note to forgive myself for thinking that the presenter had been too hard on Palisade Avenue and whether or not it is safe. She is absolutely correct. It is too dark on Palisade Avenue. It is not a welcome nighttime walk. There were 4 of us, 2 men and 2 women. I don't think it is a walk that I would have wanted to take without the men. Lighting on both sides of Palisade Avenue west of the tracks need new bulbs or they need repairing. That is neglect. If we want people to come here to live, shop, eat, work, visit or just to walk around, we must do a better job of making it safe and well lit at night. There were also numerous children on the street unaccompanied by adults. Needless to say, they need a place to go that will not cost them any money. I am sure that their presence would probably frighten more than a few people who live on the other side of the railroad tracks.

How did it look before this?
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Disconnect #2
Community Baptist Church was the site of Councilman
Hamer's 1st 4th Ward Meeting. The 4-2 Committee person complained about the historic garden located on the corner of Lafayette and Genesee. He said it was an eyesore and that it should be sold and made into something. That garden may date back as long as 70 years ago. We have established that it has definitely been handed down far more than 50 years. When I arrived in Englewood it was being cared for by one of my grandmother's friends and her former landlord. I think his name was Cecil Bacote. There are stories of him plowing and going about the City with a horse and a wagon. Many people remember him taking care of the garden that far back. The care and maintenance of this garden has changed hands many times since then. We have exchanged seeds, plants and stories from early Englewood and the south. Many residents, including myself have contributed to the garden and have eaten food from it. When I replaced my large backyard garden with a swimming pool, I gave my roto tiller to the man who worked the Lafayette garden. He showed up at my house every season since with bags of vegetables from the garden.  He seemed overwhelmed and totally surprised that I gave him a roto tiller that would have cost him over
The small plot behind the Auto Shop that used to be a garbage dump for leaves, wood chips and yard refuse
from other parts of the City. I wanted to photograph them working, but it never happened.
When they saw the camera, they posed.
$300 if he had purchased it. The 4th Ward Committee Person was very adamant that this eye sore of nature must be sold and turned into something. In other words, he wishes to "pave paradise and put in a parking lot" because he doesn't like the garden. It is doubtful that the lot is large enough to build a house, at least, I hope it isn't. Did he consult the residents? Did the person who ordered the garden razed to the ground collard greens and all consult the residents who have been eating from it for years? The proper way to put a garden to sleep for the winter is to turn the dead stuff into the soil after harvesting the cold crop (collard greens and kale). He also mentioned the lot across the street behind the Auto Body Shop where the city used to dump refuse. The man must have personal thing against vegetable gardens or gardeners. I really must say that I prefer the garden to the pile of mulch that used to be dumped behind the Auto Shop by the City of Englewood. The City should forge relationships between these gardeners instead of alienating them based on  the prejudices of one man. Perhaps the gardener would have put his own garden to sleep for the winter in the correct way if he had been part of the decision making. Given proper respect and half a chance people will participate in making their neighborhoods better.

Disconnect #3 At this same meeting a 4th Ward Resident asked that missing and or damaged fence around the brook be replaced in order to insure the safety of the children playing in the area. Think about this now. The safety of neighborhood children and destroying a neighborhood garden dating back farther than any of us can remember. Which thing should take priority and be acted upon with haste? Exactly. Take a look at the fencing or lack thereof. The large photo above shows fence missing on the eastern side of the brook. Keep in mind that the 3rd street bridge has been removed. In the area pictured below is approximately 50 or more feet of missing fence that may never have been installed. Notice the date stamp. It was pointed out on April 19, 2012 during the "photo opportunity" that preceded the June election that the fence should be installed to insure the safety of children living and playing in the neighborhood.

The fence is just as invisible as the 3rd street bridge that has been removed that allowed egress into Mackay Park and access to it for play or just a walk about. April 19, 2012 was a day of much excitement at the end of 3rd Street. The excitement ended  few weeks later when a backhoe was caught on a manhole cover and a sewage line was damaged. This rendered all of that luscious harvest totally suspicious of human consumption. Human fecal matter is potentially harmful to human health and life. So the beautiful picture below was marred and the area was all but abandoned except for the children who find it a fascinating place to play. Note. It is a fascinating, beautiful and potentially dangerous place to play, because of the missing fence.

This garden has the potential to be one of the nicest places in the City in which to chill out. 
Disconnect #4 As you can see from today's photo below, this area may now be referred to as an eyesore. Are we going to send in the bulldozers? Are we going to raze it down to the ground, because it needs some tender loving care? Perhaps we should consider having a conversation with a Landscaper who lives about 4 doors down the street from the garden. I think he even has a couple of children who play in the area. Perhaps a neighborly agreement may be struck to make sure that this area is always a lovely place to sit and read when the weather allows. Perhaps we should take up the practice of building bridges in all neighborhoods instead of tearing them down. It is just a thought. Sometimes a little good will goes a long way.

Making this a beautiful Community Garden and pleasant place to sit and for children to play is a great idea. Perhaps it is time for some follow through. There may be a few more mild days left when the sun is inviting and warm on our faces. When we begin to practice what we preach we may find that we are making a better world. Click here for the photo album that documents the development of the 3rd Street Community Garden. You must be logged in to Facebook in order to view the photos.
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