Living in Jane Jacobs’ Neighborhood

In the Rainey Street District of Austin, Texas, a stranger approached my dog, hand extended. “Puppy!” she shrieked weirdly, a piercing decibel, especially for the hour of day. My first thought is that she closed the bars and is drunk, but, she’s not. She and her friend are in fashionable workout gear, probably all ginned up on coffee and ready for some speed-walking.

Otherwise, relative calm prevails early mornings in my neighborhood when I slip out the door to take Ezzy for her walk.

My neighborhood is a trendy downtown bar district, home to live music, food trucks, drinking holes and raucous partying. But early mornings, it’s even better, with neighbor brushing against neighbor and work crews quietly coming and going, cleaning up what was left behind from the previous night’s revelries. I stop to put a beer glass on an outdoor table that someone has left on the sidewalk outside of Bangers and exchange hellos with the manager.

“How’s the girl?” Brian says. My daughter worked for him the summer before college. He wrote a warm reference letter on her behalf for a volunteer program she’s now involved with at university. When my husband and I stop in for drinks, Brian sometimes says they’re on the house and we trade stories about vacation and raising teenagers.

In the early 2000s I read Jane Jacobs’ magnum opus, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, on the workings of a great city. This 585-page hardback enjoys a prominent place on my shelf, standing proud though dozens of fuchsia post-it-notes marking the best of the best sections from my first read protrude like a child’s unruly tufts of hair. Jacobs was a long-time resident of Greenwich Village and she starts her book at the beginning, with the humble sidewalk, the fundamental building block of a city.

Read in full on StrongTowns.org

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#Happenings: Recap of NYT Modern Love event and more…

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What’s going on with me? Writing is a slow, difficult journey–always. While I have been writing, revising, editing and submitting essays here and there and everywhere, I’ve also been learning, listening, reading and growing in the art of the writing craft. Going forward, I’m going to be sharing resources and various things I’m learning here with you. So, let’s get started!
Last week, I attended the The New York Times Modern Love event featuring Editor Daniel Jones interviewing the witty columnists Ada Calhoun and Mandy Len Cantron. As a fan of the column and writer myself, it was the highlight of my week. Ada and Mandy provided lively and entertaining banter about love and long-term relationships. Their recently published books are expansions of their essays, published by NYT Modern Love (look them up!).
The popular Modern Love column offers amazing writing and thoughtful perspectives, all owing to the genius of Dan Jones, who curates the column. And if you enjoy podcasts, I heartily recommend subscribing to the exceptionally well-produced Modern Love podcast. #NYTModernLove #love #loss #redemption
On final thing. I do have essays pending publication and I can’t wait to share them with you!

Teaching My Kids The Simple Life Gave Them A Taste Of The Good Life

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Our values as parents will be past down to our #kids. What do you #cherish? Happy to be adding my voice to Red Tricycle‘s #March discussion on #minimalism#stuff #materialism #place #space #recycling #goodlife#parenting #location #publicspace #purging

“We knew that our young daughter had internalized our commitment to place over space. At school she was asked to define “neighborhood” and she wrote confidently from her own experience: “A neighborhood is a place where people live, work, and play.” Not bad for a six-year-old.

At its core, the simple life for us was wrapped up in our appreciation for walkability. That summarizes our family’s definition of a good place, and that’s what we tell our realtor every time. We want to be able to walk to the coffeeshop, grocery and pub. We’ve resided in apartments and townhouses. Once we even tried a single-family home. Today, as a family of four, we live in a downtown high-rise with two teenagers. We haven’t owned a lawnmower since 2001.

The urban life necessitated a smaller home out of which blossomed the simple life.”

Read in full herehttp://redtri.com/teaching-my-kids-the-simple-life-gave-them-a-taste-of-the-good-life/

From Sampaguita to Bleeding Heart: A Story of Resurrection

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The earth was cracked and troubled in Washington, D.C. If only you’d been listening, you would have decoded the garbled whisperings of Auntie Kay’s rapid decline, a sampaguita wilting, just like your bleeding hearts in summer, hot as morning mouth. Instead, you obsessed over perennials, especially your bleeding hearts. And, you stupidly pinned your success on them. Now their decline signaled a mocking failure.

Formerly a burned out parking lot, your skinny 15×45 patch of manufactured grass served as an urban backyard. Belying appearances, this defiled earth hid scars of the past that now threatened to slice up your hands. Your gardening gloves mostly shielded you from the harmful objects—glass, rusty metal, bullet casings, and ground-up concrete. Undaunted, you imagined Eden could be realized in one growing season under your coaxing, a remarkable, almost impossible, feat for a veteran gardener. Unluckily, you were an amateur. Unluckily, there was a drought that year. Unluckily, it was Auntie Kay’s final summer.

On the surface it was the bleeding hearts that filled you with a pitiful, throat-catching anxiety. Running parallel, deeper, viciously circling in your gut, was the once unflappable Auntie Kay now wasting away in Chicago. Be honest. Pull back the curtain: that was the throat-catching anxiety.

Read in full at Santa Fe Writers Project: http://sfwp.com/resurrection-by-kathryn-streeter/