One of my coworkers just complimented my sandwich, and that wasn't a euphemism for a body part, she really was telling me that my lunch looked tasty -- my deli sliced turkey and ham sandwich with sprouts, tomato, red onion, dijon mustard and red cabbage between two slices of fresh, home-made whole wheat bread.
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
There's something alluring in home-made goodies. All the hands-on labor that went into it, nothing automated, just a few beautiful, many-flawed things. No cellophane, no preservatives, no barcodes or labels. Just a firm yet squishy, dense loaf of good-for-you stone ground wheat.
It's the same with the coffee we buy from the roasters down the street, or the herb garden I'm planting in my back yard. It's like the scarves I made my family for Christmas last year, the curtains I sewed for our living room. All of these things are beautiful if only because they were loved bit by bit.
That's a lot of what's missing these days. We pollute so much, but it's because we're pressed for time, we'd rather have our mass-produced "gourmet" coffee than the delicious espresso from the roaster down the street that's only open Monday through Saturday, 7 A.M. to 6 P.M., but while you're there, check out their local produce cooler for a few fresh veggies.
This all comes down to planning, believe it or not. We live in cities and towns that are approved and built by a small swath of representatives and commissions. These people, supposedly operating in the city's best interest, award contracts and city development changes to people who want to make money off of the citizens in return for a service. The low-income developer wants a zoning change of residential, single-family areas to multi-family areas to make more dense groups of people closer to an existing retail intersection and near a proposed mass transit hub. This is an example of good planning.
More often is the case though, that the zoning change will go to the developer paying off more council members or commission representatives. Such is the case in Dallas, where you can't get needed mass transit to relive congested highways because people in Southern Dallas swear up and down that they've been neglected for so long that mass transit is the only way to relieve their economic and developmental poverty. Not so, I say, since I notice that most people who ride the light-rail lines through downtown get off at Union Station in droves before the lines make the leap into South Dallas. Why? because there's nothing there worth riding towards.
First, build it, then transit will come. But we have a culture of poor planning in Dallas. The area it self is shaped like a hand giving the bird -- much of Dallas itself that is populated by the rich and the influential sits at the North, whereas poverty-stricken South Dallas has few if any wealthy or influential groups, neighborhoods or business.
Putting transit in place and the hoping that business will follow is a very bad idea. First you need good infrastructure from the city -- the two slices of fresh, home-made whole wheat -- then you build it with the meat, the families -- to be topped off by the array of goodies, like the sprouts, cabbage, tomato and onion; flavors that will mix and meld and make the whole sandwich, the city, the neighborhood, that much better.