downtownwasn't nearly as scary with
punk rock shows and suburban kids with emo haircuts.
As I conclude this epic tale of love found, let me say one thing. I do not hate the suburbs, nor the people who live in them. I am very grateful that my parents raised my siblings and I where they did. The school district was great, and the people even better. What upsets me is that the suburbs have been planned in a way that if you are too young, old or poor to drive, you are really unable to have any sort of independance. The lack of public domain makes many of these places seem like any other place, and forces the residents to use the private sector's malls, or the internet for social interaction.
Anyway! Throughout high school, I began visiting downtown for school, and leisure purposes. A few nights a month, I would head to the Masonic Temple to hear local bands play, and gradually I realized that downtown wasn't nearly as scary as I imagined it was. A series of events eventually ended up in me enrolling at the University of Michigan - Flint in 2006, and I began not only feeling comfortable down here, but really enjoying it. At lunch, when my fellow students were heading to Miller road, I would opt to patronize one of the few downtown options. Gradually I learned more and more about the history of the area, and became more involved with local efforts to make it better. in Fall of 2007, I moved to carriage town, and since then I have found that my physical surroundings, although worn, and at times sad, are so much more satysfying. I love being able to walk to school, work, and coffee. I also love that during this commute I can alter my route to view the river, parks, historical architecture, and many a friends house. After years of feeling not quite right about my environment, and knowing that there had to be an alternative, I finally discovered why.
Since then I have met many great downtowners, all with similar visions for what downtown can be. I have taken to the study not only of my communities, but of what makes other communities great, and so much of it boils down to proper planning. Planning that allows people to naturally meet in plazas or on sidewalks. Planning that makes the public realm attractive enough that people want to leave their cars parked, so as to enjoy being a part of it. Flint is in a good place to make a lot of the right decisions, and we have made poor ones recently enough that we know what doesn't work. I can't wait to help those decisions along.
Whew! I'll try to not do any more three part posts! I would, however love to hear from others in the community about why they love this quirky neighborhood, and how that happened. (That is if I ever get any readers)