Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Last Train to Snowsville

Did I go out in winter storm Pax? Well, of course I did.

It was once again time for the Ephemeral Plan: Brook Road, week two of our neighborhood get-together to brainstorm how to turn the triangle at Brook and Adams into the local hot spot.

Naturally I was one of the first arrivals, fine by me since this evening's food had just arrived. Tonight Comfort had supplied slices of country ham, a mound of pimento cheese the size of my head, Ritz crackers and housemade pickles.

My favorite Jackson Ward couple soon showed up, dusting snow off their shoulders, and joining me in some pre-spitballing fare.

Talking about country hams, my friend shared a story about a Virginian who sent her California in-laws a Smithfield country ham, only to eventually hear back from them that they'd thrown it away after one taste because it was so salty, not to mention how moldy it looked on the outside.

Well, duh, that's the point. Leave it to left coasters not to grasp the concept of east coast pig.

None of us had any problem downing our salty ham and sinfully rich pimento cheese-slathered Ritz especially when complemented by the tartness of the pickle slices eaten between bites.

Then it was down to business but because half of last week's turnout were being snow wimps this week, we had only two groups instead of five.

Tonight's plan was to fine tune last week's bright ideas to get closer to what will be the final plan for the triangle.

Fortunately, we didn't have anyone in our group foolhardy enough to suggest taking down the century-old oak tree as a few people had done last week.

We worked through all the issues, spending a lot of time on lighting and greenery, two key components to making the area feel safer and more inviting.

I got creative, suggesting a video projection wall with changing kinetic imagery courtesy of VCU students and a vertical bike rack designed by the winner of a contest among sculpture students to go on Adams Street.

Yea, that's me, full of big ideas.

Much as I love and support the idea of public fruit trees, even I had to admit that they're messy and attract birds who poop all over the place and  that isn't going to help us attract anyone to the neighborhood.

Never mind, I'll work on someone else to get public fruit trees planted in some of our many vacant lots.

Tonight we also got into the details of the planters we want to see closing off Brook Road and scattered among the public tables taking up the public piazza in what was formerly the street.

One woman even suggested a rain barrel so we could have a green water source for watering all those planters.

As we envisioned the triangle becoming a food cart stop, an Etsy pop-up marketplace or a free wi-fi destination, it became pretty obvious that a major snowstorm is no deterrent for the kind of people who want a say in shaping their 'hood.

By the time we'd turned in our sketches and plan details, we were all feeling mighty pleased with ourselves and our snowy evening's work.

My friends headed home but since I already knew the Heavy Midgets album release show at Balliceaux tonight had been canceled, I thought I'd at least make one last stop at Comfort for a drink and dessert.

Except they turned out to be among the snow wimps. Closed due to snow.

Oh, well, I suppose I can always stay home for the evening and read more of Peter Guralnick's "Last Train to Memphis." Gotta admit, I'm curious to see how things turn out for this Elvis kid.

How about that, an evening at home reading.

I might be able to pull this off for one night, but these snow wimps better get their acts together before tomorrow night.

That's all I have to say.

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