A survey crew mapping the Rumours property—are bulldozers next?
It was a bit gut wrenching to see a survey crew at work this morning at 2304 12th Avenue South. It’s real now. IF the next step is demolition (I had a little too much wine and nostalgia last night, so forgive me if I’m jumping to conclusions), in the bulldozers’ wake, what would replace the patio that’s become my second backyard over the past few years? Apartments? Retail outlets I can’t afford to shop in? Surface parking?
I’m not naive: I get that one person’s community gathering place, home, and beloved watering hole is another person’s real estate investment. When it comes down to dollars, who can afford to be all touchy-feely? There’s no room for sentimentality when it’s time to write the mortgage check. Business is business, right?
What’s tough for me to grasp is why business sometimes has to feel so…unfeeling. Is it even possible to merge commerce and caring? It seems that we, as a society, tend to think not. When an artist chooses to trade successfully in his creative work, we label him as a “sellout.” We root for social entrepreneurs but secretly believe that they will fail. And too often, the ways people choose to do business make the world a little worse for the rest of us. (Think Massey Energy.)
Is it really so impossible to do well and to do good, at the same time? To create something beautiful that changes the world for the better, and to cash in? I imagine that Steve Jobs, J.K. Rowling, Thomas Keller, Nicholas Kristof, and Somaly Mam would say no, it is not impossible. It’s just rare. It takes vision.
We apparently believe that there’s no room for the artist’s brain in the world of hard-nosed economic realities. Transactions must be devoid of feeling, we think. It’s a zero-sum game.
And where has that gotten us, exactly?
A lot of people tell me that I should be glad that 12South is doing so well, economically speaking. It can only increase the value of my property, they say. The thing is, I don’t much care. I’m not planning to sell. What I value isn’t the appraisal report on my house. I value the ability to walk up the street and hold court on a beautiful patio with my urban tribe. I value the artistry of Rumours owners Christy Shuff and Jenn Doherty McCarthy—the way they make me feel right at home every single time I walk in, and the way Jenn always knows what to pour. And I value the un-corporate cuteness of our little stretch of 12South—the old houses painted funky colors, the little gardens, the patio laughter on a perfect fall afternoon.
Do you know what pure, unadulterated commerce tastes like? Olive Garden. Applebee’s. I’ll pass, thanks.
I’m starting to feel as if these marvelous property values of ours have made our street smell a little too much like money, and as a result, a little less like a community. I hope I’m wrong. I hope that developers who may have grander plans for my favorite patio and wine bar really do intend to make lots of money and to make a small corner of the world a little bit better for everyone. Unfortunately, those two concepts do not always go hand in hand.
Related post: On Food, Love, and Artistry
Related post: Halcyon Days – One neighborhood’s “evolution”