Saturday, July 9, 2011

PC meeting on Mon: Parks Master Plan and New Barr Property Plans?

<--Image from the Ohio Historical Society
Dear People-- The weather is gorgeous and the summer has suddenly become lush and beautiful. The Iowa farm girl in me noticed that the corn in the field just south of us on Spillan has grown at least a foot in the past week; it's now well over my head, I judge. When I was a kid I swear we could literally hear it growing on very hot, humid, still July nights--there's a kind of popping sound that I think is corn growing. (Although I just tried to verify this fact by consulting Dr. Internet, but I found nothing authoritative, just lots of wonderful anecdata....)

So, looks like we're in for another round of exciting Yellow Springs debate. There's just two things on our PC agenda:

In a nutshell: Home, Inc. and Buckeye propose to develop 37 units of "high quality energy efficient housing for independent seniors aged 55 and older in Yellow Springs" on the Barr property (321 Xenia, corner of Xenia and Limestone.)

This property has a long Planning Commission history, as many of you are aware. A couple of years ago PC and Council approved a plan by the Friends Care Community to build 30 units on that property (plus space for another building and with retail/community space and 4 more dwellings). This proposal has many similarities to that: it's affordable apartment housing for seniors located near the heart of town. It's a different size and shape--2 stories, not three, and the plan is less of a solid block so to me it is more appealing in several ways.

Assuming we can work out issues regarding storm water management on the property and some other problems, my initial inclination is to support this project. I suspect that some of you will disagree with this position, given the history of the last project proposal--hence my assertion that we're in for a debate.

Do let me know if there are specific questions you would like me to ask of the developers about this project.


Well, one of the three books I'm reading right now is John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. There's a whole lot of poetry and power in that book, with a verbal aesthetic that evokes the great graphic art of the 1930s, with noble, dignified workers standing larger-than-life in woodcut landscapes. Here's a few great, and timely, passages:

"Some of the owner men were kind because they hated what they had to do, and some of them were angry because they hated to be cruel, and some of them were cold because they had long ago found that one could not be an owner unless one were cold. And all of them were caught in something larger than themselves. Some of them hated the mathematics that drove them, and some were afraid, and some worshipped the mathematics because it provided a refuge from thought and from feeling. If a bank or a finance company owned the land, the owner man said, The Bank—or the Company—needs—wants—insist​s—must have—as though the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and feeling, which had ensnared them. These last would take no responsibility for the banks or the companies because they were men and slaves, while the banks were machines and masters all at the same time. Some of the owner men were a little proud to be slaves to such cold and powerful masters. ...
'We’re sorry. It’s not us. It’s the monster. The bank isn’t like a man.'
'Yes, but the bank is only made of men.'
'No, you’re wrong there—quite wrong there. The bank is something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it."
(from Chapter 5)

"For man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments. This you may say of man—when theories change and crash, when schools, philosophies, when narrow dark alleys of thought, national, religious, economic, grow and disintegrate, man reaches, stumbles forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward, he may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step back. This you may say and know it and know it. This you may know when the bombs plummet out of the black planes on the market place, when prisoners are stuck like pigs, when the crushed bodies drain filthily in the dust. You may know it in this way. If the step were not being taken, if the stumbling-forward ache were not alive, the bombs would not fall, the throats would not be cut. Fear the time when the bombs stop falling while the bombers live—for every bomb is proof that the spirit has not died. And fear the time when the strikes stop while the great owners live—for every little beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken. And this you can know—fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe."
(from Chapter 14)

"And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history. The land fell into fewer hands, the number of dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great owners was directed at repression. The money was spent for arms, for gas to protect the great holdings, and spies were sent to catch the murmurings of revolt so that it might be stamped out. The changing economy was ignored, plans for the change ignored; and only means to destroy revolt were considered, while the causes for revolt went on."
(from Chapter 19)


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