Saturday, March 29, 2014

Intergenerational equity

Today was an interesting day. For the first time since last October, I think, the interior of my black vehicle warmed in the sun. That was a very pleasant surprise. All four of the adults who live at "the property" headed for Natural Built Home in Minneapolis to pick out some marmoleum flooring samples. After eliminating half a dozen or so colors as "too yellow," or "too much blue," or something, we settled on four light to dark neutral colors. We ended up with four because, for every one of the samples we brought home, two or three of the four of us liked it, but none of the samples could garner four votes. Assuming we work out the arrangements needed for the daughter person and her fiancee to acquire "the property" from those of us in the older generation, a balancing act is needed between those who will finance the improvement and those who will probably live with it the longest. This raises some really challenging concerns about sustainable development and lovable buildings. We don't all love the same things. Is there any way to make a building generically lovable? Stewart Brand's book How Buildings Learn offers some insights, such as shearing layers, that may be useful. We'll report at some point in the future about how this exploration of multi-generational sustainability turns out. Personally, I'm not sure a compromise that makes everyone equally unhappy is an answer.

St. Croix Chocolate Co. (behind pine on right)
St. Croix Chocolate Co. (behind pine on right)  © harrington

On a sweeter note, we dropped by Marine on St. Croix during our return trip. St Croix Chocolate Co. was having a sampling and Easter preview today and some in our merry band really, really didn't want to miss it. Many (all?) of their chocolates include local and/or organic products, so they're the kind of company I like to support (along with independent bookstores and coffee shops). Instead of indulging my sweet tooth, I spent time walking about "downtown" Marine and taking some photos. I know that Marine is reminiscent of a New England village, but I was trying to understand if that was all of what I found attractive about that place. I finally realized that, like New England villages, it is built at a human, walkable scale. Unlike downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul. Marine, or even Stillwater for that matter, can readily be comprehended by folks.

part of Marine's "downtown"
part of Marine's "downtown"      © harrington

Main Street

(For S.M.L.)

I like to look at the blossomy track of the moon upon the sea,
But it isn't half so fine a sight as Main Street used to be
When it all was covered over with a couple of feet of snow,
And over the crisp and radiant road the ringing sleighs would go.

Now, Main Street bordered with autumn leaves, it was a pleasant thing,
And its gutters were gay with dandelions early in the Spring;
I like to think of it white with frost or dusty in the heat,
Because I think it is humaner than any other street.

A city street that is busy and wide is ground by a thousand wheels,
And a burden of traffic on its breast is all it ever feels:
It is dully conscious of weight and speed and of work that never ends,
But it cannot be human like Main Street, and recognise its friends.

There were only about a hundred teams on Main Street in a day,
And twenty or thirty people, I guess, and some children out to play.
And there wasn't a wagon or buggy, or a man or a girl or a boy
That Main Street didn't remember, and somehow seem to enjoy.

The truck and the motor and trolley car and the elevated train
They make the weary city street reverberate with pain:
But there is yet an echo left deep down within my heart
Of the music the Main Street cobblestones made beneath a butcher's cart.

God be thanked for the Milky Way that runs across the sky,
That's the path that my feet would tread whenever I have to die.
Some folks call it a Silver Sword, and some a Pearly Crown,
But the only thing I think it is, is Main Street, Heaventown.

Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.