Sunday, August 24, 2008

Random Thoughts on a Sunday Evening

* Where some media outlets seem to be more interested in cheeky/gotcha journalism than intelligent reporting and thoughtful analysis of the issues, Charlottesville Tomorrow consistently impresses me as the kind of information agent that every community would be blessed to have, yet few are fortunate enough to do so. Their staff are top-notch and their reporting is like chocolate for wonks. I don't know where they get their money, but whoever funds them, please keep the dollars flowing.

* Yesterday's Daily Progress piece about Charlottesville's declining African-American population came right on the heels of a very insightful article in last week's New Republic about the "demographic inversion" that many cities across the country are experiencing. The gist of the article is that as more and more people of means are choosing to put down roots in city centers (which is a good thing), more and more low-income families are finding themselves displaced to the suburbs. I've long argued, and still strongly believe, that there are ways to invest in urban revitalization that don't necessarily lead to wholesale gentrification and broad displacement of long-time residents, but it takes more time and often more money to do it "the right way" and few communities have been willing to sacrifice enough of either. I just became Chair of the Redevelopment Committee of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority (CRHA), which is about to undertake an ambitious Master Planning process to guide the revitalization of our City's seven public housing neighborhoods. Redevelopment of public housing is the best opportunity we have for expanding our supply of affordable housing, improving the quality of life for our public housing residents, and changing the very dynamics of poverty in our community. But it has to be done the right way lest we continue down the wrong path. I believe we can do it right.

* On a much lighter note, I recently registered for (and started training for) the Richmond Half Marathon on Nov. 15; my ultimate goal is to do the Charlottesville Marathon next April. Now that I've actually put those words in print for the whole world to see, there's a better chance I will actually follow through on them. Or, not.

* Starting in the next week or so, I'll be kicking off a weekly "Mayor's Corner" morning gig on 106.1 The Corner. Being a big Corner fan, and eager to find new ways to engage and inform area residents on issues of the day, I'm excited about the opportunity. It won't be more than 10-15 minutes or so each week, just a chance to talk about local goings-on in a fun and creative environment. Including one feature that every Charlottesville resident is just dying to know: What's on the Mayor's iPod? Each week I'll get to choose a different artist/album to take me in and out of commercial break, which gives me a chance to put in a plug for some of my favorite musicians. I'll mostly be highlighting local acts, or folks with local connections (like Lunasa and Vieux Farka Toure, who are headlining the "Stand Up Charlottesville for Darfur" concert at the Paramount on Sept. 12).

* One of the primary reasons I started this here blog was to show off my collection of vintage Charlottesville postcards, but it's been woefully devoid of such material of late. Herewith, appropos of nothing (other than, perhaps, Gate Pratt's recent commentary on the need for a revisioning of this particular intersection), a circa-1909, pre-Lewis & Clark statue image of the intersection of Ridge and Main Streets, featuring the old Midway High School (where Midway Manor now stands):

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