One morning as I stepped up to the counter at Cafe Kubal, barista Ozula rapidly cleaned it off, saying something lovingly about “the messes of the pre-caffeinated.” I stared dumbly at the menu board, waiting for the fog to clear enough to be able to make an intelligent choice. She was patient, as always. I eventually got it together and, trusting my caffeine intake to a trained expert, placed my order.
This morning, at home and in an equally pre-caffeinated fog, I did this:
What’s wrong with this picture? Hmmm…. seems I didn’t see that the lid was still on the coffee grinder. I thought I knew what I was doing. I expected one thing but got something quite different. It took me awhile to pick up the beans and put them where they really would be most effective.
This little adventure did wake me up. Got me to thinking about all the mistakes we make before fully awake. Within memory of our own grandparents, we used to think it perfectly fine to deny the vote to women and to lynch blacks. Then we woke up. During our own lifetimes we thought it fine to pollute Onondaga Lake and replace Syracuse’s historic buildings with parking lots. Then we woke up and gave some measure of power to the people who have devoted their lives to understanding the long-term effects of our deeds. We finally heeded the words of Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rachel Carson. After 30 years of ignoring the warnings of Al Gore and many others, we are finally waking up and paying attention to what the experts have been saying: global warming is a serious threat to the entire planet.
Isn’t it time Syracuse woke up and hired experts to make design and development decisions about our city? I don’t mean people who stand to make money or inflate egos off plunking down new construction that’s inappropriate to our city’s urban settings. I mean people who have graduate degrees in urban planning and design, people who understand the effects of our deeds within the complexities of physical and historical context. That means where our city, its buildings, its businesses and its inhabitants stand in relation to the past, the present and the future.
Please, let us not have “planning commissions” full of people who have no advanced education in planning. Please, let us not allow developers to be the sole “deciders” about what our children will be dealing with. Let us fix a system that allows the pre-caffeinated to build an interstate highway right through a cohesive neighborhood (thus dooming it for decades) or a small coterie of developers to bamboozle a city into thinking that we have to choose between sick kids and historic preservation (we don’t).
Keep your eye on what’s happening to the Kingsley-True house. If state or federal funding is sought by Ronald McDonald House, it must undergo a review process before any demolition takes place. See this letter from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and this letter from the Preservation Association of Central New York to Mayor Driscoll for further details.
Please, Syracuse, wake up and drink the coffee!