Friday, August 1, 2008

New York's In Trouble

That's the conclusion of Governor David Paterson and he seems to know what he's talking about. I spent most of this week tracking down what that might mean...cuts to spending, cuts in staff, hiring freezes, and what about the oh-so-heavily-promoted Quadricentennial celebration? No answers so far, but it was interesting to have one assembly member tell me that 'before we make any cuts that hurt the people of this state or ask them to spend more to prevent any cuts, we should look at those kinds of projects a second time, at the very least put them off until a better time or maybe look at whether we should be in that business at all.' That got a rise out of the head of the Quad committee, who has to deal with said assembly member on her committee. "Why would he cut off a very big source of potential revenue to his own district by putting the brakes on a project that would benefit his area most of all?"

She was talking about the Walkway of Terror...better known as the Walkway Over the Hudson. It's a 35 million dollar project to convert a former railroad bridge into a massive pedestrian walkway. I'd scoff, but I've been on top of the Eiffel Tower. It's pretty cool. I suppose it's possible people will travel a long way to walk a mile above the Hudson.

Then there were interviews for The Show. I spoke with the founders of Ode magazine. I love the concept: highlight what's good in the world. It's not a Pollyanna magazine and it's not escapist. It looks at the issue we're all confronting but doesn't just moan or try to scare us to death - it looks at solutions.

The founders are a couple who used to be journalists. She's French, he's Dutch. He's measured in his responses, hers were so peppered with swear words that I'm going have to do some editing to make her FCC-acceptable. But they weren't gratuitous swears...they sprang from her frustration with a media obsessed with finding disaster everywhere.

I like Ode.

Then I spoke with the woman who gave up a bank job to run the Heidelberg Project in Detroit. I had never heard of it before I stumbled across a story on it this week. It's wonderful. An artist took some run down buildings in the most derelict part of the city and turned them into wild and amazing art. It's grown into a huge tourist destination and he's even being recognized by a prestigious international architectural competition.

"Are you surprised by the way your life has changed?" I asked her.

"I never saw this coming," she laughed. But she's having fun.

She told me too many people live the lives people expect of them...and then get trapped in the boxes they build.

I understand that. And I guess my efforts to live outside a box have led me here...and will undoubtedly take me places I haven't even imagined yet.

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