North College and Fayetteville’s “42 percent” | Street Jazz

North College and Fayetteville’s “42 percent”

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The universe is made of stories, not atoms. - Muriel Rukeyser

I have spent the last couple of hours thinking about one of Fayetteville’s aldermen, and his claim that 42 percent of our population live within a mile of North College, as if that justified putting most of the city’s emphasis on our main drag. But then, population percentage is just data, and doesn’t really tell you much about the folks who make up those percentage points.

A mile, after all, is quite a long way, if you walk it . . . 16 minutes at a brisk pace, longer if you have to cross busy streets.

Suppose you pick any spot at random along North College, and begin to walk - you can’t drive for this, or even ride a bike - you gotta walk, so you can really take in your community. All around North College, which so much of 2012's election seemed to revolve around, there are pockets of great wealth, homes of those who make modest incomes, and folks who live in abject poverty.

Properties with huge piles of old tires, mansions, and tiny apartments for those living below the poverty line.

Streets with beautiful trees and lovely sidewalks, and other streets with deeply cracked sidewalks.

Of course, for some, the remedy to those pockets of poverty - so embarrassing should a newcomer stumble upon them by accident - is to have a developer buy up the rental properties in an area, and everything can be pretty in no time at all, in act of urban compassion, you might say.

And the less-than-pretty people? Well, no doubt they would be happier living elsewhere, further on the outskirts of town.

Or maybe even out of town, perhaps, closer to where the jobs might be found.

Perhaps North College is what many might see first, but it ain’t the only street in our fair city.

Just pick any spot on North College, and start walking. Take notes, and say hello to folks you see on the street. And a few days later, pick another spot, and choose another direction.

Because it isn’t all about data; it is about our collective humanity.

No doubt I lack the intellect to understand the arguments being made - or perhaps at this late date I simply lack the patience.

******

Quote of the Day

If you are getting the worst of it in an argument with a literary man, always attack his style. That’ll touch him if nothing else will. - J.A. Spender

rsdrake@cox.net

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