Friday, October 20, 2017

#Write31Days 20 • Discover

desert sun 03

Five Minute Friday :: Discover

This week's Discover Five Minute Friday prompt from Kate Motaungs gradually aging FMF home is perfect for Celebrating Place!

Take Five {Minutes}:

One of my favorite exclamations is "Celebrate the City! Where the mind sees more than the eye!" With my somewhat extreme urban propensities, that would be an excellent start for five minutes of considering discover. Diversity of every kind is a hallmark of any metropolis, and in fact, variety belongs to any definition of city. But that's not my direction for this FMF. How many times have I mentioned the surface of the desertscape appears almost lifeless and unchanging, yet you don't need to be a biology or ecology expert to know the extreme amount of animal and plant life that teems just underneath the surface. I can't begin to estimate the times I've reminded my readers and myself how the exodus desert was the original constitutive experience for God's people on their way to the land of promise where they'd become settled and agricultural, where they'd rely on the earth become land to yield to their skills in farming, to respond to the life-giving and life-sustaining rivers that flowed through Canaan.

Life-giving and identity-restoring remains our experience in the physical, phenomenological deserts of this 21st century, in our relational and spiritual ones, too, as God in the power of the Holy Spirit of life nudges, directs, and strips us down to essentials. Despite all those palm trees everywhere and the Pacific Ocean right down the street, it can be hard to remember my current place of residence in southern California is a coastal desert. Visiting the land-locked Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona long has been one of my best reminders to look and discover what God has been doing underneath the apparent dryness and drought, to dig deep in all directions to celebrate the place of renewal and hope, the venue of God's unwavering presence that's the desert.


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Thursday, October 19, 2017

#Write31Days 19 • South Central

#smile south central

Los Angeles

Since mid-March 2017 Roxy Kitteh and I've been staying in South Central LA; there's no point in describing the situation beyond saying people have reminded me, "it's a roof" and reminding myself the cost of housing in these here parts is sky-high, yet I trust something affordable and healthy eventually will surface.

Dis be da hood, so the immediate area's sparse on standard retailers and has more than a fair share of storefront indie businesses {and churches}. Life in South Central has meant relishing six {6} months of almost daily fresh local blueberries, along with the opportunity to enjoy Edward Hopper-style lighting effects {I cannot get enough of} on nearby houses during breakfast every morning weather's not overcast. So that part's been very very good.

All in all? Smell the Roses, Savor the Berries, and #SmileSouthCentral!

south central crenshaw / slauson

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

#Write31Days 18 • Sorrow

porch stories: sorrow

...For the City and the Cities

Porch Stories

Today is Wednesday and another Porch Story opp from Kristin Hill Taylor; this time Kristin writes about Ashleigh Slater's new book Braving Sorrow {Loss, Grief, Disappointment} Together. Yesterday I wrote a little about ways cities bring me to life, emphasizing the...
...description of my currently less active {than this one} Preservation Project blog, it's about Neighborhood revitalization, brownfield reclamation, storefront transformation, infrastructure rehabilitation... about surrounding the city with beauty, encouraging nature with window boxes, backyard gardens, kitchen herb gardens, community gardens. Flowers and veggies, beauty and nutrition all over the place! Getting artistic with murals on brick walls and wooden fences. Creating new signage.

The story of God and God's people opens with a garden and ends with the city of the new creation with the river of life flowing through the city streets, with the tree of life laden with fruits for healing of all the nations. A properly tended garden will grow into a city!

I grieve and mourn for population decline, broken infrastructure, overall urban decay {and I don't mean the makeup line}, schools that don't educate, political carelessness, and other serious sorrows of too many cities in the USA and elsewhere. My heart particularly aches for the once splendid city of Detroit, that sprawling urban prairie once known as the Motor City and as Motown. I've blogged about Detroit at least a half dozen times {update: at least 16 times} over the life of this blog; my memories include days at Belle Isle Park and my first ever MLB game at the old Tiger Stadium {8-track tape, that one}. Less than five years ago, Detroit declared bankruptcy, yet love and caring that began quite a while previous to that event are helping revitalize and resurrect Detroit. Enough people cared deeply enough to come together in their sorrow and loss. They held onto hope, did a lot of plain hard work, and helped revive Detroit into a Renaissance City, a place of rebirth, a place to wildly celebrate again!

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

#Write31Days 17 • Alive

city fence scattered flowers
city fence gathering flowers


For day 17 I'm breaking again from writing about discrete physical, geographical places, and picking up What Makes You Feel Alive, the suggested day 17 prompt from #Write31Days host Crystal Stine. Alive reminds me of Howard Thurman's {career, vocation, recreation} counsel not to ask what the world needs—ask what brings you to life, because the world needs people who are fully alive.

What makes me feel alive? Sharing a meal with almost anyone else! Teaching ... almost anything? Well, not quite. Teaching something I know about: art, music, bible, theology. To tie alive into 31 Days of Celebrating Place, what places, large or small settings, types of towns, or particular geographies bring me to life? Cities. Noisy residential neighborhoods. The CBD at lunchtime. I still have that Preservation Project passion, or maybe Restoration Project would be more accurate. To cite the description of my currently less active {than this one} Preservation Project blog, it's about Neighborhood revitalization, brownfield reclamation, storefront transformation, infrastructure rehabilitation... about surrounding the city with beauty, encouraging nature with window boxes, backyard gardens, kitchen herb gardens, community gardens. Flowers and veggies, beauty and nutrition all over the place! Getting artistic with murals on brick walls and wooden fences. Creating new signage. What brings me to life? Digging into dirt. Pruning, weeding, raking, harvesting. Getting real dirt all over and not minding it at all after the first five minutes. Planting, harvesting, growing, and greening can happen almost anywhere you can dig into the dirt, and it's most noticeably abundant outside the city out in the countryside, across rural farmlands. What brings me to life? Sharing a meal, especially a feast full of ingredients we've planted and picked ourselves, prepared together, and blessed together. In the city, In the country. Anywhere.

city fence gathered flowers
city flowers gathered scattered flowers

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Monday, October 16, 2017

#Write31Days 16 • Salt Lake City

Mount Olympus Utah
Mount Olympus

Days of 47 Utah Sego Lily Utah


This is day 16, the exact middle of the 31-day challenge!

Salt Lake City forever will remain a place I need to rationalize what went right because by most human standards so many things went wrong during my time there. This series featured the state of Utah a week ago yesterday; like the rest of Utah, SLC and its immediate surroundings are packed full of natural wonders. SLC possesses the biblical number of seven canyons; creeks that flow through SLC's more urban canyons {City Creek, Mill Creek, Red Butte, Emigration, and Parley's} have been in the process of becoming literally daylighted and restored to health rather than continuing as canals. Larger canyons Little Cottonwood and Big Cottonwood were – and still are – near enough to the city for even a short escapade up the canyon into big sky wonders.

Whether or not you've visited SLC or other parts of the intermountain west, maybe you know Brigham Young announced the Salt Lake Valley as "the place" the Latter-day Saints would settle. Pioneer Day that commemorates that event every July 24 is a major Utah holiday. Some years I watched fireworks a few streets up the hill from where I lived, other years at Liberty Park. You've likely seen pictures of Temple Square at Christmas time, and you may recognize the SLC LDS temple. Nearby Abravanel Hall is home to the Utah Symphony Orchestra. I had the joy of attending some Saturday evening concerts with a friend some of the times her daughter had to work and couldn't use her ticket. I also attended some Finishing Touches open rehearsals.

I trudged through CROP walks or the local equivalent during non-CROP years. Most of Utah's land mass is rural, most of the population, urban. I could walk to the Utah State Fair from my apartment on The Avenues! Getting to the fair was a longish walk, but easier than inconveniently parking and then walking for a half mile, or taking more than one city bus a relatively short distance.

Because I served on the board of three non-profit organizations and was active in at least two others, I participated in more than my fair share of activities that were politically, socially, and culturally broadening and enlightening. I never bothered to count my sound bite appearances on the late evening {10 pm in Utah} network affiliate news! Alongside my activist endeavors, I sat in on classes at the U, joined Toastmasters in order to become a better speaker, always attended the annual Poverty Conference and the Neighborhood Conference. I even had the smarts to find computer classes and start digitizing my design! That's the short list, so maybe SLC was more of a growing and learning space than a place of sorrow and disappointment?

Would I visit SLC? Only if someone I knew still lived there. I reconnected on facebook with next door neighbor Laurie, who currently lives in Provo, not far from Brigham Young University or "The Y." Would I vacation in Utah again? In a heartbeat—and I already have!

Avenues Utah Apartment Building

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

#Write31Days 15 • Salem

Derby Wharf, Salem Federal Style House, Salem


A train ride or a drive "up the {north} shore" from Boston into residential, historical Salem leads to dozens, maybe hundreds, of three-story classic federal style houses painted in assorted hues. Salem has a rich maritime history! I've heard tell how way back in the day, clipper ship trade in opium and tea was so central to the city's identity that people across the big Atlantic Pond thought Salem was the New World / the New World was Salem. Salem is full of ecclesiastical history—beginning with and moving beyond colonial Puritans, more than one church traces roots to the first church gathered in the colonies in the year 1629. Early in the 19th century, the first ever foreign missionaries were commissioned and sent out from Salem. "Salem" derives from the Hebrew shalom, peace that's well-being, integrity, and wholeness, that's more than absence of conflict.

By the way, the witches were only a myth, because they happened in today's town of Danvers that used to be part of Salem, just as several other renamed north shore towns once "belonged" to Salem.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

#Write31Days 14 • Ramsey Canyon Preserve

Ramsey Canyon Preserve
Ramsey Canyon Preserve
Ramsey Canyon Preserve

I've previously written about Ramsey Canyon Preserve on this site during April 2007 and featured some photographs on Ramsey Canyon Preserve too.

The Nature Conservancy describes Ramsey Canyon as one of "The Last Great Places." There's nothing more healing than a day at Ramsey Canyon Preserve. It's not too long a drive from Tucson in the direction of the Mexican state of Sonora, but the trip back home Tucson-way definitely warrants stopping for dinner. As I did for San Diego County, I'll fill in some spaces on this one later one. In fact, in the interest of ending up with a major accomplishment, I'll probably add ideas and images to almost everything in this series.

From The Nature Conservancy:

Ramsey Canyon, located within the Upper San Pedro River Basin in southeastern Arizona, is renowned for its outstanding scenic beauty and the diversity of its plant and animal life. Southeastern Arizona is an ecological crossroads, where the Sierra Madre of Mexico, the Rocky Mountains, and the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts all come together.

A spring-fed stream, northeast orientation, and high canyon walls provide Ramsey Canyon with a moist, cool environment unusual in the desert Southwest. Summer monsoons create an annual splash zone where all kinds of fun can be had! Water-loving plants such as sycamores, maples, and columbines line the banks of Ramsey Creek, often growing within a few feet of cacti, yucca, and agaves. Communities ranging from semi-desert grassland to pine-fir forest are found within the vicinity of Ramsey Canyon Preserve. Ramsey Canyon and the Upper San Pedro River Basin are situated within the Apache Highlands ecoregion, which encompasses central and southeastern Arizona, southwest New Mexico, and the northern Sierra Occidental of Mexico.

Ramsey Canyon Preserve
Ramsey Canyon Preserve
Ramsey Canyon Preserve

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