Tom Minter's Off The Stoop Blog

a playwright's journey, creating, connecting, and conversing.


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A few weeks ago I ran into a friend on the street in the neighborhood; the weather was on the tip of sweltering and left a gritty intensity on our observations of change..

The neighborhood, we noted, had gone through shifts that were extreme enough to make the fuselage, of a space worthy jet, crack; from empty sockets -plots of rubble where ruined or torched brick houses had been- developers seemed to have created instant society; condos materialized that took care to create a neighborhood mood of affluence, ease, and renovated posterity; this, on the debris of community –one, in this north west area, that had maintained cohesiveness even in the face of the 70’s riots, and tightened its sense of neighborhood to maintain families in homes that, though weary, kept their owners proud and dedicated to insuring that some semblance of ‘legacy’ would be available to pass on to their grandchildren.

In the last decade’s bloat of housing and gentrification, property taxes choked the determination of long established communities here, and pinched families not only out of their homes, but out of their communities, and out of the District; there was no vacuum left behind, as properties were tooled to facilitate the landing of a new tier of entitlement and opportunists..

-yes; I’ve just re-read that, and ‘yes’, it sounds very biting; but to the conversation that was being had, on the gardened corner, the observation was underscored by the passing foot traffic: dedicatedly enveloped in toys of technology: iPhone, iPod, iPad2, Kindle, Black Berry; ‘running-shoes-of-the-month’,  pastels of the season, ‘jogging-buggies’ for the babies, uninterruptablenatter of uncertain consequence, and an aire of proprietary ‘public space’; wafting in the passing pace was a rather pungent status of lifestyle, exuding a bold disinterest in any historical sense of community.. which seemed to be the grout maintaining commonality.

Oddly enough, what was so viscerally disturbing was not the ‘class war’ evidence that had eclipsed the roots of this neighborhood, it was that my friend and I suddenly connected to the fact that ‘we’ were now the living repositories of a sense of history, and were discussing our ‘decades in one place’ with a perspective not available to the passing traffic.. leading to the observation that:

Change; it happens; it is unavoidable; always altering, best advanced.

..and accepting that, in the larger view it feels as if a sense of dread and looming disaster sits on our present, with a stifling limitation of perspective; we don’t look back, we can’t seem to pierce our sight forward, and so, stuck in a vortex of uncertainty, ‘change’ itself becomes the deamon, and we go all biblical in the face of it..

I think change is an innate and intimate application in our comprehension of the world; moment to moment, thought to thought, movement to action, we utilize change to take us from one second to the next; we understand that the instant behind us is gone, never to be replayed or recouped –and yet, when we see a great ripple of change barreling at us, we are compressed into apprehension, as if discerning some primordial event that will rupture us forever from what it is we do, to move through every instant in the day.

Change is the intermezzo before another course. And as it’s being served outside of our control, it sometimes comes in flavors that challenge our gag reflexes..

But the moment always passes; like sorbet.. –cold, sharp –and leaving the palette available for comprehending all kinds of new flavors of challenge..

The neighborhood is not lost; it is altered. It remains, living through its change, and, ultimately, preparing itself for future changes..

Like each of us.

.. some of whom connect to a longer view of perspective, and, disconcerted, find themselves speaking like their grandparents, on the corner, noticing the swift details unnoticed by those not yet old enough to have repositories matured with context and time..

Change is not the surprise; it’s the knowledge, having moved though it.


Written by tomminteroffthestoop

July 12, 2011 at 8:55 AM

Posted in Life

Tagged with , ,

2 Responses

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  1. Tom! I finally read this wonderful post as I am here on vacation in Provincetown. I walk the lovely streets here and wonder about the long lost history of this place. I see it clearly in the faces of the older residents as they go about tending their gardens or sweeping the walks. I wonder about the change they have seen and the loss they have felt, here in a place that has become so unaffordable to most that the final high school class graduated last year and the only high school closed down. The history and the long-lost culture lives on in a stronger way because there is such a strong sense of place here in the architecture and the landscape and even in the numerous galleries that carry the past in sculptures and paintings. But it has become a playground of the entitled, and I can see the loss all around me.

    Life is change – it may be true that change is the only constant. But massive overhauls are an unnatural byproduct of our modern economy and do result in incalculable loss.

    I guess the best we can do is try to add to the experience of our place by keeping its history alive in whatever way we can – without becoming known as the neighborhood curmudgeons.

    Great post!


    July 13, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    • Thanks, Carmen; you’re right -the impact of change which is occurring is eviscerating; many are left without any means of dealing with the ruptures in their lives, and I don’t mean to be glib about that.
      It’s difficult being a curmudgeon, and, deft with social commentary..!


      July 13, 2011 at 9:49 AM

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