Sanity Amongst The Concrete

Edith Macefield died on Sunday. I never met her and all I know about her is what an article in the Seattle P-I has reported (thanks for the link Megan). She owned a house in Ballard, my favorite Seattle neighborhood, and refused to sell her home to developers even when they offered her a million dollars. She wanted to be left alone and to die in the house she’d lived in for over 55 years.

So the developers did what developers often (but not always) do: push on with their project because any “sane person” understands that “progress is inevitable”. To bad most developers version of progress involves characterless boxes designed to be built as quickly as possible so they can get their money and go onto the next neighborhood or city, leaving a trail of shoddily built communist block condos and townhouses in their wake.

They don’t live in these neighborhoods. They don’t have to shop in or walk past these hovels. A neighborhood is a living entity. Take away its human sized, character filled homes (and the people who live in them) and you take away its humanity, its history.

As white people in America begin their migration from suburbs to cities you will see these massive upheavals of old city neighborhoods being razed to make way for a much more “conducive environment” for these skittish suburban transplants. White folks from the ‘burbs are used to characterless houses, box stores and uniform shopping, dinning and entertainment experiences.

They don’t care if their apartment is nothing more than a miniature version of the house they moved from, if anything all that sheetrock and forced air brings them comfort (since it’s the same shitty materials and ideas being used to build their condo as was used on their suburban house).

This is how America deals with change: either we utterly abandon it (think towns and cities in what is now called the Rust Belt) or we plow over anything that would hinder our insatiable march forward (anything historical included).

What a sad people we are and an even sadder people we will soon be. When Edith’s generation, a generation that lived through two world wars and a great depression, are gone who will be left to explain to us that money, and the blind pursuit of it, will never give us what we want?

Edith didn’t want the stack of bills offered to her because she had something that money simply couldn’t buy: the ability to be content.


Blogger wilsonian said...

This is just so sad. So sad. Each time I look at the picture, I can't help hearing noise... the incredible noise of pounding and workers shouting.

Rest in peace, Edith.

4:15 AM  
Blogger Stu Bish said...

Mate I've been thinking about the same.... and I agree, character is important.

There's a block of land near my house with a falling down house on it, I'd love nothing more than to buy it and build a house that's MY OWN, that I can bring my kids up in etc.

BUT, my only thought is this, we live in cities, and with the whole cities thing comes people. LOTS of people. I mean if Vancouver passed a law saying housing can only be such a density etc, then we'd be stuffed as my crappy house would be worth several million dollars by now.

Having said that. I'd like the pacific north west to take a leaf from the book of NYC or MTL. Their high density has character well more character than over here that's for sure.

Any thoughts on keeping a neighborhood while dealing with the influx of people.

BTW, have you hear my and Jacqui's news?!?

6:59 AM  
Blogger D said...

That is an amazing picture. To me, it just screams, "Fuck you!" (I'm new; is cursing allowed?) :)

Personally, I think Jesus would have had a similar reaction. I wish some graffiti artist would have come and painted her a mural on one of those concrete walls.

9:37 AM  
Blogger bfine107 said...

that photo is awesome

9:19 PM  
Blogger IvorySing said...

This reminds me of the children's book, "The Little House." At the end of the book, the little house was moved to a hill in the country like the one she lived on before the city was built up all around her.

10:39 AM  
Blogger elle indsay said...

what a beautiful resistance! remember the story of the woman in manufactured landscapes who refused to cede her house to developers? i wonder what will happen to the little house now that its owner has passed... it should be a historical monument!

11:46 AM  

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