*Carnegie Hall - Jim Dine - 1986
I began reading Peter Kageyama's book, "For the Love of Cities" last night. Yes, I'm the kind of person who reads passages from books that I'm excited about--aloud to my family until they tell me to shut up. I can't read aloud to you, my readers, but I will quote a few passages from the beginning of this award-winning book that no co-creater of their city should be without.
This wonderful how-to book is a story, actually a collection of stories about the love affair between people and their places. We hear a lot of talk these days about "livable" and "sustainable", but Peter Kageyama brings another level of depth to the way we view our standards for quality of life. He says that instead of merely livable, we need to start thinking about how we can make our cities more lovable. He speaks of the importance of deepening the relationships we have with our cities and that our cities have with us.
Think about this quote from him for a minute: "When we love something, we cherish it; we protect it; we do extraordinary things for it. When we are loved, we flourish as people and are enabled to achieve great things. This mutual love affair between people and their place is one of the most powerful influences in our lives, yet we rarely think of it in terms of a relationship. . . if we as citizens begin to consider our emotional connections with our places, we open up new possibilities in community, social and economic development."
In his own words, Kageyama's book is about ". . . what it means to have a relationship with a place, why it matters, how such a relationship grows, how it can die, and how to better understand it. "
Like Kageyama, I too believe that incredible things can happen when we fall in love with our city. When it comes to city planning, we all need to add "love" to the vocabulary because love is the most powerful tool we have been given as human beings.
I'm especially excited to be among the co-creators for the Garland Urban Agricultural Center and Community Garden Cooperative. I'm also grateful for Douglas Athas, our Mayor. Doug is a thinker and a hugger who is already following many of the principles for strengthening Garland's vitality and economy that Peter Kageyama advocates. For example, Mayor Athas is willing to stick his neck out and take chances with artists and mavericks like me who come to him with unusual proposals. Mayor Athas is the kind of Mayor who supports events such as the "RETHINK COMMUNITY - Garland Texas" and people like Peter Kageyama who focus on creating places worth loving.
In the mix of what the Garland Urban Agricultural Center and Community Garden Cooperative are planning there will be strong threads of art and culture. We have just begun the plans for a unique place that we hope all our citizens will love and profit from. Our Planning Committee met last Thursday, October 24 in my home. On Wednesday, October 30, we will have our second meeting in my home. We still have 8 places on the planning committee. If you are a Garland resident and would like to join this committee, please RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 972-571-4497.
*About the Heart
The heart shown above is from the huge collection of hearts over the years created by artist Jim Dine. Among the fundraising plans for our Urban Agricultural Center and Community Garden we are planning a fundraiser for February themed: "Loving Your Place." We will feature a contest whereby all citizens of Garland can submit drawings of any size that feature a heart. Folks can submit as many drawings as they wish, but each drawing must be an original piece, created by a Garland Citizen and submitted with a $5 entry fee.
A panel of judges will select the best 20 and these 20 will be featured in our Urban Agricultural Center and Community Garden when it opens in April of 2014. Some of these drawings may be created as posters and then sold on an ongoing basis at the Garland Urban Agricultural Center and Community Garden. Also, it is possible that we may have some of the hearts created and painted on metal and installed as permanent sculptures in our community garden.
Below is an example of one of many heart sculptures also created by Jim Dine. If it's true that we are only limited by our imaginations and our capacity for love, then we have no limits. Let's get out there and start figuring out ways to show how much we love our city.