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Archive for July, 2011

My friend Phil Lyford is hosting a fundraiser for me at Amsterdam Castle from 6-8pm tomorrow night (Thursday, July 28). Great hors d’oeuvres, conversation, and an exhibit of artwork by Phil’s very talented father. I’d love for you to join us. Please share this invite with your friends. Having come from a big family, the more the merrier!

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shred

for Vince, with love.

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There is something gracefully metaphorical about what’s happening in the Rose Garden at City Hall. Two years ago, this was a forgotten, overgrown mass of vines, saplings and crumbling walls. The panoramic view to the south was obscured and that side of the building was rarely visited by even the most avid of history buffs.

A year ago, almost to the day, loads of topsoil were delivered and we began planting the much-maligned rose garden. Naysayers decried the project as a wildly hedonistic, unnecessary expense, even though the foundation walls to the basement and retaining walls showed signs of considerable damage, cracking and collapse. We ignored the naysayers. We made repairs and improvements from budgeted funds for City Hall property maintenance.

The naysayers roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes! Surely, this project could only be viewed as insanely irresponsible! What silly fluffiness! “Shutter the place and sell it!” became the daily AM mantra.

God paid no mind. Seeds took root and flowers bloomed, several times in fact and far into the Fall.

This summer, a small band of determined volunteers continues to change the course of our demise. Betty Clough, Debbie Baranello and Karin Hetrick returned to work their magic with gloves, shovels, sweat and muscle. Ed Schyuler and Nick Zabawsky donated perennial plants to augment the already beautiful flora with specimens that will flower from early Spring until late Fall. The staircases that flank each end of the garden have been masterfully cleared of vegetation, dirt and fallen debris, unearthing a heritage in slate and brick that is amazingly preserved and artistic.

The pièce de résistance to this reclamation will be the mural being painted on the basement foundation wall. Where bricks have fallen away, a trompe l’oeil Tuscan landscape will vanish into a perpetually dreamlike distance. Methinks there is no room for naysayers there.

The slow, evolution of this broken bit of history into lovely, inviting public space is emblematic of what is happening across the city. The steps are small and incremental, but we are walking back out of the woods. Bridge Street is taking shape, Riverlink Park is expanding, water and road projects are remedying years of decay, the water filtration plant and waste water treatment plant updates are nearing completion and volunteer groups across the city are undertaking beautification projects in every city ward.

Bottom line: the sun will rise again. The garden(s) will grow. There is hope.

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