On the Edge

It hasn’t been cold enough for me in Chattanooga. By the time you read this, I will be in a land where the high temperature of the day will be zero. Zero (0), zip, nada, nothing. There are no degrees. It might be cold outdoors, but we’ll make it hot inside with some riverfront and downtown planning fire. I’m excited about the work and as it starts to take shape, I’ll be sure to share. In the meantime, be thankful for the balmy weather in the Scenic City.

My thoughts have been scattered this week, and that has manifest itself in the form of three half-written posts for this week. Good new for the future, bad news for today. In absence of original thought, I will point you in another direction.

This week, as I was talking over a potential project, I was reminded of a reading I was assigned in college. (Remembering any reading from my undergraduate days attests to its substance). Edgier Cities was an article written by Joel Garreau as a follow-up to his seminal book Edge City: Life on the New Frontier. The article describes the author’s vision for how the sub-urbs might evolve over the next three generations. I have a vivid recollection of the handout- a dog-eared, three-pager with the telltale illegible graphics and barely legible text of photocopies that have been photocopied one too many times. I have an equally vivid recollection of one of the passages in the article regarding the bohemian reinhabitation of an abandoned strip center:

“on the land no longer needed for parking, the artists muse over why that parking lot is so ugly, and they do something about it ... In the parking lot they plant trees and vegetable gardens and erect sculptures, paintings, band shells, tot lots, playgrounds, volleyball courts with imported sand, and farmers markets. Whenever a pothole emerges, it is seen as an opportunity to create a garden... The artists go to the great trouble of digging up the old drainage-system pipes. Now storm water flows on the surface, in the form of streams and marshes”

The article is now twenty years old, and of course has not perfectly predicted the future. Some of the article, however, rings true in an “Occupy” sort of way. In any event, you should go here to read it. Enjoy!

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