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Posts Tagged ‘springfield’

Photograph by Shane Porter

Weeds growing up through the cracks in the pavement is a fractal assertion of life revealing itself through the cracks of civilization. My neighborhood is indicative of that, and this year’s Festival of Life in the Cracks (March 10) coincided with a meteorologically beautiful day, one of the first of spring’s blessings of warmth and sunshine.

On a typical working day, most “normal” neighborhoods are empty, their residents off working to pay for all the stuff in their fine homes. My neighborhood, on the other hand, is full of life. People are in the streets, walking and biking, wholly ignoring the hierarchy of vehicular traffic. My neighbors are out and about, getting stuff done and hanging out. I had the pleasure of washing and wringing my clothes outside in the bright sunlight and warm breezes, and hanging all on the clothesline to get that fresh earthy smell that cannot be extracted from a bottle. After my work was done, friends dropped by, hearty beers in hand, and we sat on the porch, talking, relaxing, spending time reinforcing the ties that bind our community together.

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Nature's chaotic abundance takes root in an abandoned flower pot.

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese term that does not translate well to English, but using a thousand words, perhaps we shall begin to understand.  Wabi originally referred to the loneliness of living in nature, but now reflects a meaning more of rustic simplicity, freshness, or quietness.  Wabi also refers to the quirks and imperfections that arise during the creation process.  Sabi refers to the beauty which comes into being as something ages.  According to wikipedia, “if an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi.”  Also, wabi-sabi “nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”
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Welcome to Springfield, IL

Springfield, Illinois, is a tourist Mecca. There’s just that certain je ne sais quoi about a dead president that makes people flock to the schlock erected in his memory. Thanks to state and federal funds from the boom times of the bipolar economy we find ourselves in, Springfield now boasts a presidential museum and library, with the accompanying hordes of camera-eyed tourists and hyperactive and bored school children. The effect on our downtown has been pernicious. The buildings in which poor people previously lived have been torn down or remodeled into upscale condominiums. The homeless (ever-increasing in numbers) have been “encouraged” to go elsewhere. Downtown used to be a lively place, with regular people—citizens—hanging out and having fun, but now is cleansed so as not to give tourists indigestion; there is even a man whose job is to vacuum the sidewalks.

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