Urban Pioneer

Photo by EmergingArtist

Having been an urban pioneer, I have a soft spot for the personality type. It means re-jiggering your center of gravity as you walk against the tides that might sweep you and children out into the provincial suburbs. Which is, by the way, where we ended up.

After years of gutting it out, organizing to get our alley repaved so our kids could ride bikes free of drive-by shootings, for instance, I finally hit my limit. One summer day, I was walking with my toddler in hand and cradling my newborn when I stumbled into a drug deal. What followed, Quentin Tarantino couldn’t make up. My son would later write an award-winning short story about it in college.

The recent article in the New York Times by Roberta Brandes Gratz, whom I very much dig by the way, makes the case for organic diversity. You’ve seen it–when gritty artists and enthusiastic urbanists stake their claim to bedraggled, dangerous neighborhoods and remake them. Humanely, I’ll add. When developers move in, you get something very different. Expensive, sterile and unremarkable.

As Labor Day nears, I toast the power of creative people who toil to make a world we all want to live in.