Monday, March 30, 2009

Urban Planning 101

This is what it looks like from the outside, as viewed from a pedestrian bridge over the street. It's a humongous shopping mall, smack dab in the center of downtown.

When it first opened 20 years ago, it delighted locals as well as out-of-towners who traveled great distances to shop here. Upscale stores such as Marshall Fields, Jacobson's and Macy's were among the hundreds of retailers. There was no shortage of food and entertainment, thanks to the many restaurants, the amphitheater in the center and the connected concert hall/movie theater. It was the place to be, no question.

What went wrong, then?

This grand shopping destination officially closed permanently on March 5, 2009, a mere 20 years after its auspicious opening.

Well, whirlingbetty is no city planner, but it doesn't take one to figure out what went wrong. Surely a 1,200,000 square foot 3 level shopping center in the center of a major U.S. city's downtown was intended to last longer than 20 years!

This mall opened in 1989. It was innovative, being an urban mall in contrast to the far more common suburban variety. It was upscale and exciting.

Here's the problem: in 1997, a brand new mall opened on the northwest side of this same city, unbelievably by the SAME developers who had built the downtown mall! Even an amateur urban planner sees what's coming.

Another suburban mall was opened on the northeast side of the city two years later. The impact on the downtown mall was dramatic by this time.

The fatal blow came in 2001 when when yet another mall opened on the north end of the city. This trifecta of brand new mega malls on the outskirts of town made it impossible for shoppers to justify driving all the way downtown to shop, especially knowing they'd have to pay to park there! Besides, most of the population lives in the suburbs anyway, as this city grows to look more and more like a giant, ever-expanding doughnut with a gaping, empty hole in its center.

City Planning 101: If you want to draw people downtown, the first rule is to exercise restraint on development in the suburbs! There was nothing inherently wrong with the downtown mall; it was a gem. What was wrong was the uncontrolled, unchecked competition allowed to spring up in the ever-expanding suburbs.

The city government did nothing to discourage re-location of residents, businesses, services and retail to the suburbs. We are left with a declining, decaying downtown. What good is a city with a rotten core?

These two shoppers, made of cement, are the last to grace the halls of the former downtown shopping mecca. What a loss; what a waste.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Monet's garden

I spied this image of a Monet painting while perusing blogs today. This is one that I'm not familiar with, but I find it most appealing.
I've always wanted to have my own garden like Monet's at Giverny. I suppose it's no wonder, then, that I ended up living on a park which features views like this one:

The similarities are remarkable, don't you think? Granted, the park isn't my own personal paradise like Monet's garden was for him, but I also don't have to tend the garden or pay the gardeners, except through with same tax dollars that every city resident pays.

I regularly see artists set up here in the park with easels like Monet's. They seem to be using "en plain air" techniques which Monet advocated.

Very early in the morning and after sunset, the garden is devoid of visitors, and I pretend it's mine.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A perspective

Here's a thought to ponder: Life is supposed to be fun. Imagine the possibility that before you were born, you said, "I'll go forth and choose. I'll look at the data, and I'll say, yes to this, and yes to this, and yes to this, and I'll paint a picture of the things that I want, and I'll vibrate about them, because that's what I'm giving my attention to. And the Universe will respond to my vibration. And then I'll stand in a new place where a whole new batch of yeses are available, and I'll say yes to this, and yes to this, and yes to this." You did not say, "I'll go forth and struggle into joy", because from your Nonphysical Perspective you know it is vibrationally not possible. You cannot struggle to joy. Struggle and joy are not on the same channel. You joy your way to joy. You laugh your way to success. It is through your joy that good things come.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

spring is here

Can you detect the faint hint of green in the bushes on the left, and red in the bushes on the right? The subtleties of spring are becoming bolder by the minute. The closeup below shows promising buds and new growth.

Over the past couple of months I've allowed the house to fall into a state of alarming disarray. Something had to be done! I wouldn't go so far as to say I've been "spring cleaning", but at least I've been straightening up the house to the point where I can invite people inside again.

The crocus is the quintessential harbinger of spring. Crocuses abound around my house.

Below is a miniature daffodil, about 1/4 the size of a regular daffodil. (The regular ones bloom later, in April.) Each spring I am reminded of my dear friend Wini who died of breast cancer several years ago when the daffodils were in full bloom.

I have not been spending any money lately. Last summer was rough; my employer had shut down the business for several months, and during that time my car broke down 5 times and the plumbing in my house went bad. Repairs for those unfortunate events cost thousands of dollars. Financial recovery will take a long time.

However, I was perusing the ad from Target in Sunday's newspaper and I spied a fun, whirlingbetty-looking welcome mat for $9.99. Here it is:

Now that my schedule has lightened up a bit, I am heaving a huge sigh of relief and getting back to the things I've neglected, like blogging. I have resumed my fair weather practice of sitting outside on the patio in front of my house, feeding the animals and reading.

Happy Spring!