Monday, March 24, 2008
A moving story
Last week I moved out of my office of 18 years. This required packing up books, papers, tapes, maps, photographs and all the detritus that can accumulate in a research office over that long a period of time. The hat I got in Detroit, while visiting their Halloween night anti-arson activities. The voodoo doll magnet meant to fend off hostility. The dirt, air, water and light people have brought back as presents from cities around the world. Water from Lourdes has to move as it might come in handy one day. Dirt from Centre and Kirkpatrick in Pittsburgh has to go, because that's the center of the universe. At a certain point, everything goes into a box to get sorted later. The move is a learning experience, too. Our offices were being relocated because of gentrification in the neighborhood. We learn that the men that are moving us are also affected by gentrification, but their company is going out of business, and they are losing their jobs. One of the men who was helping us had been with the company for 37 years and was being turned out without severance pay or any other financial consideration. These forces are affecting Main Street, though the pace of change will likely be slowed by the economic downturn. While it's on pause, we have a moment to think about the future and to ponder how we shape new investment to promote stability and continuity, not simply upheaval and displacement.