Saturday, September 09, 2006

Coming Together to Walk

Lovely day for a walk over the Y Bridge in downtown Akron. The humans and the dogs were out this morning to celebrate diversity. The event began in Cascade Plaza where we gathered to begin the walk up Main Street toward the bridge.

People and dogs of all shapes and sizes enjoyed the bright sunshine and the views from the bridge. Normally, pedestrians can't walk on the east side of the bridge, so it was an excellent opportunity to look down at the new housing going up next to the old Elizabeth Park public housing development.

Elizabeth Park has been a disgrace to our city. Long red brick buildings look more like prison camps than rental units. It always felt to me like it was put there to "keep those people hidden and in their place." Shameful, is what I call it.

The new housing is a mixture of single-family homes and town houses. Couldn't tell from so far away how good the construction of these units. They look like cheaper versions of suburban housing "estates." The biggest difference is the move from the straight lines and grid of the old brick apartments to curving drives integrated into the beautiful tree-filled valley. I wonder if the plan is to tear down the old brick ones and put in even more new housing?

Up a bit on the slope, the new trendy loft apartments look down on the valley to the north and to the Northside arts, culture and good food and drink area. A fellow gave me a sales pitch on this place at the University Arts in the Park festival a few weekends ago. You get to design your own interior once the lofts are built. Supposedly there will be underground parking, various amenities, including perhaps a restaurant and shops at ground level.

Will all this new construction help stem the tide of people moving out of Akron into the suburbs? The for sale signs dot the landscape, no matter which side of town you live on. As I was driving around today I tried to imagine myself in about 2o years, trying to live a sustainable lifestyle in the city. Could I live without a vehicle? Where would I go to get my groceries? I love the ABJ Farmer's Market and go there every Thursday, but that's only a few months out of the year. To get decent vegetables, one has to go to Montrose or to a chain store. There's a Giant Eagle and a Tops at South Plaza that isn't too far -- by vehicle. There's no place to shop for groceries within walking distance near Summit Lake.

Meanwhile, back at the lake, the swans were out in full force.
When I first moved into my house, there were no swans on the lake. One summer, a pair of them showed up but something must have happened to one of them, because there was only one lonely swan by summer's end. The next summer, there were three swans. The ducks, geese and swans are unflappable. They expect humans to feed them. I didn't have any food, only a camera.

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