Don Sanders (center) talks with Mark Berezin (left), and Craig Crouch (right)
Monday I was lucky to be invited to a strategy meeting for the Victory Theatre Project at MIFA's office on Suffolk Street. I'm not as much help as I would like to be, but Don Sanders seems to appreciate my insights into Holyoke.
Even though much of this meeting was about technical details that are as changeable as the current economic climate, everyone was in agreement that the Victory is a viable project that can create untold benefits for Holyoke. The overall message I took away from this meeting was that the project is progressing, even if that progress is not visible at this time. Don mentioned that they (MIFA) get so focused in their little world that they forget how important it is to communicate with the public.
As for public enthusiasm for this project - at the open house last Saturday, MIFA put out a donation jar. On the face of it, I really thought they would be lucky to get a few dollars. The jar filled with over $1100
Last night was my first CRUSH meeting having missed the prior one. The meeting was an opportunity to test my new camera, and connect with other Holyoke people.
C.R.U.S.H. stands for: Citizens for the Revitalization and Urban Success of Holyoke.
As you can see, I really don't know how to use my camera yet, and had some trouble in low light. The camera can do much better than this if you know what your doing. The 50mm lens was probably a mistake, I thought it would work better in low light conditions, but the lack of zoom was sorely missed.
Everyone was socializing when I arrived. The meeting was at the Bungalow behind the Waterfront Tavern. I didn't know too many people, but Rebecca Lisi was happy to finally meet me. Seems I held some sort of mysterious position in her mind due to my anonymity.
I get sidetracked so easily, but what motor head could resist looking over the cute Vespas, and Piaggios.
The meeting had a purpose, Vote NO on Question 1. With this being the main topic I was somewhat apprehensive to attend. My issue wasn't the topic itself, but simply the idea that the group should focus more on purely Holyoke issues, and bring together people from a wide range of Holyoke Society to conquer these issues. If you read the Buzz interview with Rebecca Lisi that's almost exactly what she said. So I'm still hopeful that this is the group I always wanted to form myself, but never knew how to approach it.
Pamela Schwartz was the main speaker for the "Question 1" issue. I resorted to using the built in flash on the camera to get a good picture of her speaking. Again, this picture could have been much better if I used flash correctly, but my new camera bag hasn't even arrived, so the speedlight stayed home with all the other stuff I don't know how to use.
A bit dark, but not bad. Wait a sec, didn't I read something about built in picture correction in the manual?
Ahh, better, but no substitute for getting the shot right.
It was nice to talk to other Holyokers about one of my favorite subjects, Holyoke.
It was also nice to sit back and listen to the live music. The young musician is Eric Paquette, frontman for Gone By Daylight. He’s definitely worth listening.
For the first time, Washington Mutual declined one of my purchases. It was at Amazon.com for a new camera I ordered to improve my photography. When I went to log into my WaMu account to see what's up, I was redirected to a page titled Login Blocked.
Now I make large purchases all the time with my credit cards. In fact, I hardly ever use cash. So of coarse I quickly called the number on the page and went through an automated phone system where I was queried about my recent purchases. I was informed by a computer that my account showed an unusual spending pattern leading to my account being flagged for possible fraud.
There was no fraud, I did initiate the purchase, and as soon as I got off the phone, my account was accessible. I also had to go back to Amazon.com since they could not process the order. I switched payment to my AMEX Clear card, purely out of spite, it had no "unusual spending pattern" problems.
My WaMu card is one of my oldest continuous lines of credit. It was originally a PayPal branded card issued by Providian. WaMu bought Providian, and ended the relationship with PayPal. I was issued a plain WaMu Visa, and have been happy with the rate of 7.99% on purchases. This incident made me question the stability of the banks I do business with. After I finished with Amazon I pulled out all the cards in my pocket to ponder the future of these institutions.
I love these cards, they are my gateway to the world, the ability to do anything. Not that I want much. This incident with WaMu, and the way they are talking about banks these days makes me wonder, what banks will still be around by Christmas?
I don't usually go to car fires. They are always out by the time I get there, and there's really not much to see, but last night at about 9:30, one came over the scanner that got my attention. "On the Berkshire Street by the Railroad tracks".
The story here is someone stripped the interior of the car, dumped it, and torched it. End of story.
But then about an hour later another fire call came over that a van was on fire at Springdale lunch.
A women in broken English was trying to explain to me that someone attempted to torch 5 cars at the car lot, but only the large white van got going.
I should have gone to this mornings Ward 2 Neighborhood Watch Meeting. I didn't go because I live in ward 1, but I hear it was sparsely attended, and ONE person volunteered to join the Sheriff's Neighborhood Watch program. Just one person from ward 2.
Ward 2 is the poorest, and most crime ridden ward in Holyoke. So where were the dozens of concerned people who protested the transfer station calling it a genuine risk to health and safety of ward 2 residents?
I can't help but shake my head in disbelief at the screwed up priorities of some people. This neighborhood watch program is really effective. It strives to gather hard information from residents to be used as intelligence for the police. They often find that the real problems are caused by just a few bad apples who ruin the neighborhood for everyone else. Focusing the limited resources of the police on those apples can bring substantial improvements, but they need the type of day-to-day information that only residents can gather.
Let's hope they had a better turnout at the ward 3 meeting.
Described as, "A fanciful installation - constructed from recycled and found objects", this stuff is junk, or rather it was junk.
"The Fantasy Garden will captivate and inspire and we want to encourage young people to to see this show and examine their own values" - David Scher
I wanted to check this out since I hadn't been over to The Canal Galley in some time, and was genuinely curious about what's been happening there. Hey, is that the missing white bird from my Christmas wreath?
I was not particularly impressed with the collection as a whole, but some of the pieces caught my fancy. Hey, there's my old Spongebob bath carpet.
Much of it reminded me of things I owned as a kid - was wondering where that matchbook car went.
David Scher, no relation to Eric Suher, gave me quick tour of the building. For some reason I had the idea that David was related to Eric, I don't know where I got that from.
David has dozens of artist renting space in the building, but it's not profitable. Like most ventures of this type it's always in a state of development and change. The spirit of the place is one of reuse and recycle, not a bad thing, but they don't have the funding to match the ambition.
The problem is that the artistic community lives in social disconnect from the work-a-day crowd that still sees the old mill building as a defunct business. I do applaud the efforts of people at The Canal Gallery to make our world more beautiful. They are creating sustainable lifestyle. A noble cause, but the work-a-day crowd could care less if their lifestyles are sustainable. They just want artists to produce things that give joy and escapism from their everyday lives. And if the art just so happens to be sustainable, the more the better.
The preachy-ness of the message given by Friday's installation turns off a lot of would be patrons, and that is the most unfortunate thing here, because some of those would be patrons have the funding The Canal Gallery needs.
Sunday I went over to Temple Street to view the damage from Saturday nights sandslide. I guess that's what were calling it. It really is mostly sand.
I spoke with Jennifer, the nice young girl who was on the news. She's a student at U Mass, renting in Holyoke with her boyfriend. I felt so bad for her. Her car is totaled. Filled with water, and sand.
Jennifer is lucky she and her boyfriend weren't hurt. The sandslide happened quickly while Jennifer was trying to rescue her car. If the sandslide was twice as big, both Jennifer and her boyfriend could of been buried alive.
I walked up the hill to see the source of the sandslide.
After last months Railroad washout, just a few hundred feet away, the Railroad opened up this old stone arch culvert. Well it's not really a culvert, but that's another story.
The same culvert last week when the RR opened it up.
And here it is on Sunday.
Sediment from the Elmwood neighborhood has been washing down to this area for a long time., notice the shopping carriage to the right, but the water that caused Saturdays sandslide is from a new source.
I was asked by the Railroad to look into this, and document, via my blog. The RR is really pissed. Pissed because this damage is so costly, and also because they were immediately blamed for it.
The flooding moved stones that sat Since 1870.
I walked up the tracks to find the source of the water.
It's not really a pile of bricks, but a lot of building waste used for land fill behind the Charter School, and Holyoke Flea Market.
Directly behind the Flea Market is the source of the flooding water. The storm water drain system has totally failed.
What happened is when the Charter School was built they plumbed the roof water from the entire building into the storm water drains. The system obviously couldn't handle it, and during last months rain the pressure blew out the underground pipes, blasting all the water out in this one spot.
4 inches of rain on Saturday, multiplied by a 20 acre site, is a lot of water in this one spot.
The City ordered the property owner to fix this last month, but the partners are in disagreement about what to do.
Tropical storm Hanna dumped 4 inches of rain on Holyoke last night. Once again Community Field flooded out, and ran onto Summit street, and down Ridgewood. And once again my white sneakers will take a week to dry out.
I guess the residents of Ridgewood weren't kidding about this happening all the time.
Also due to the storm, some sort of electrical surge blew transformers at Lincoln street, and Pleasant street. Power was cut in the neighborhood.
The Democratic VP nominee Joe Biden, who's name came up recently in a discussion here about Palin's pregnant daughter, may appear in Holyoke next week, for a fund raiser, and to make MassLive look stupid in the wake of their deletion spree of political topics in the Holyoke Forum .
Once again MassLive deletes an entire thread with no reason given, but that is precisly why so many of us have blogs. To discuss things without fear of deletion, or reprisal from the Nazi-Moderators at MassLive.
The topic at MassLive was about Palin's pregnant daughter, and this isn't entirely without relevancy for Holyoke. I mean, Co-mon! We are not exactly a city full of Vestal Virgins, and White Weddings. We're more a City of High Statistics, and "I never met my father", and Chlamydia.
So I will start off this discussion with my 2 cents.
So Palin's daughter is "easy". So what? Is Palin suppose to have vaginal control over her 17 year old? How about your own youthful indiscretions, do you blame your parents for your actions when you were 17?