Saturday, July 09, 2011

Columbus Reborn [Bryan]

For a long time, I had the sense that Columbus really lacked an identity, or even a sense of place. The city has been disconnected from its past and has been lacking a vision for the future. I can't tell you how many grand landmarks have been torn down, how many businesses have fled downtown, how much the waterfront (the key to a great city) was lacking in character and imagination, and so forth. Columbus, I felt, was a "convenient" city, but that was about all that could be said for it.

In the past few weeks, I've really changed my mind. I've strolled around the newly hip and vibrant Short North District, hung out again at Schiller park in German Village taking in a free play, and marveled at the connection Columbus somehow has with the Royal Shakespeare Company, which produced an amazing kid-friendly (!) production of Hamlet last month. However, the key to the resurrection of Columbus, in my mind, is the new parks downtown. They have really gotten serious about reshaping their public places in the city and it is really paying off. There is now a string of parks along the Scioto River, the "Scioto Mile," all interconnected by bike paths. There is now the biggest splash park I have ever seen, which will draw families back to downtown. There is a new central park in place of the old City Center Mall, Columbus Commons, which comes complete with a carousel, an outdoor library, beautiful gardens, and European-style outdoor cafe. There are pedestrian-friendly bridges linking the east and west banks of the Scioto, meaning that people can easily walk from COSI to downtown (the new Main Street Bridge is the first inclined arch bridge in North America). The central park is linked to the waterfront parks by cobblestone streets and urban gardens. Very cool. Behold a city reborn!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

The mind reels [Bryan]

Watching the national debate has been immensely discouraging lately. I will leave Kevin Drum to sum up my feelings:

Republicans got the tax cuts they wanted. They got the financial deregulation they wanted. They got the wars they wanted. They got the unfunded spending increases they wanted. And the results were completely, unrelentingly disastrous. A decade of sluggish growth and near-zero wage increases. A massive housing bubble. Trillions of dollars in war spending and thousands of American lives lost. A financial collapse. A soaring long-term deficit. Sky-high unemployment. All on their watch and all due to policies they eagerly supported. And worse: ever since the predictable results of their recklessness came crashing down, they've rabidly and nearly unanimously opposed every single attempt to dig ourselves out of the hole they created for us. But despite the fact that this is all recent history, it's treated like some kind of dreamscape. No one talks about it. Republicans pretend it never happened. Fox News insists that what we need is an even bigger dose of the medicine we got in the aughts, and this is, inexplicably, treated seriously by the rest of the press corps instead of being laughed at.