Rent Em Spoons!

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So everybody is going crazy over the altercation between Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s sister, Solange. Well I’m not here to go through the wherefore and whys of this spectacle. I will let the other bloggers do that. I am however, more focused on the physical aspect of the attack itself, which to me was quite amusing. If you were like me, you may have watched the melee…a couple of times… Solange really wanted to get to Jay-z. Really wanted to. So much so that when she couldn’t put her hands on him due to the bodyguard holding her back (He really earned his paycheck that evening), she began kicking him. She was reaching for every part she could with her feet. I laughed hard watching this. Not because of the beating that Jay-Z received from his very, very, very, very, angry sister-in-law, but it reminded me of this television episode of Martin. There is this particular episode when Martin; his girlfriend, Gina; and their friends Pam, Tommy, and Cole were brainstorming ideas for a business they wanted to open with Martin’s $4,000 IRS refund check. Well dear Cole, who has proven on more than one occasion that he’s not too bright, came up with the idea of “Rent Em Spoons.” Basically, you give out free soup, but you rent out the spoons 🙂 ! This explanation immediately put Martin in fight mode. In spite of the violence that it ensued, Cole was determined to get his idea across. The third time Cole yelled out “Rent Em Spoons,” his friends, anticipating the imminent attack, had to hold Martin back to where only his feet were free, using them to try and kick Cole. View here.

I mean Martin was desperate to beat Cole down. Like Solange. And like my two-year-old. Yes, like my two-year-old. When I try to pull my little boy away from the object that he desires like food, a toy, or his blanket, he can’t vocalize his frustration, so he will kick and stretch to try to reach the object with his feet. His father and I call these antics, “Rent Em Spoons!” While I don’t condone violence, I think the Rent Em Spoons fighting method can be cathartic. Even if you hit nothing (Although Solange managed to land a few blows), I think it’s an effective way to let someone or something know that if you could just get your hands on them… Anyway, there are some community issues that make me just want to go, Rent Em Spoons! Count them down with me:

6. Big Box Stores – Admittedly, I love Target. However, the Big Boxes in general make me crazy. It requires so much land to build one. Not only for the actual store but for parking as well. Then there is the runoff once it rains that pollutes our rivers and streams. Even if you are not an environmentalist, you must admit Big Box Stores have killed their share of small businesses. And every time you look around, someone thinks it’s actually a good idea to put one of these up. And you can best believe this is after an old store has been abandoned, leaving a shell and a lot wasted land. Rent Em Spoons!

5. Subdivisions without Trees – When I was working as a planner and preparing my rezoning reports for the subdivisions, I would always give the stipulation that the developer only remove just enough trees to place the house. Unfortunately, not all jurisdictions require a “no clear cutting” clause. When I pass subdivisions with endless rooftops and not one tree, it makes me want to completely Rent Em Spoons!

4. Gated Communities – To you, it’s security. To me, it’s promoting exclusivity. Rent Em Spoons!

3. The Continuous Building of Schools Waaaaayyyyy Out in Suburbia – I hate it when there are schools closer to the urban center that are falling apart and need to be rehabilitated, and yet, all of the money goes towards building state-of-the-art facilities way out yonder where there is only like 50 people. Again, it’s such a waste of land. And money. Then when there aren’t enough students in the older schools, they are the ones that are closed, leaving behind rundown, unused eyesores. Rent Em Spoons!

2. Applebees – Nothing personal against Applebees. I enjoy the occasional 2 for $20 menu as much as the next person. I am actually more opposed to the concept of Applebees and similar restaurant chains. They keep us out of downtown and keeps us from enjoying the community’s indigenous culture displayed in food, arts and crafts, and music. You can’t enjoy those in suburban restaurants. Rent Em Spoons!

1. Deteriorating Neighborhoods – We grow up. We get money. We leave. We don’t return. We want to head for the gated community, with no trees, near the big box retail and the Applebees, and send our kids to the brand new state-of-the-art schools. Two things here: First, Gentrify Your Own Self! and Secondly, Rent Em Spoons!

So there you have it. The things in the community that make me go all Rent Em Spoons. What about your community makes you go all Rent Em Spoons?

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Gentrify Your Own Self: We Got Our Work Cut Out for Us – Part 3

tnd-collageAs I have discussed in my last few posts, I think in order to maintain culture and a sense of community, we all need to consider returning to our neighborhoods to rebuild them. It is not a secret that I have expressed concern that convincing people to Gentrify Your Own Self! is easier said than done. I don’t know if the people from the HGTV programs are the true face of homebuyers in this country, as they could be putting on for entertainment value. However, if these attitudes are for real, then we have got our work cut out for us in getting people to understand what is truly important in terms of where to live and if it is feasible to have everything. Part 1 of the We’ve Got Our Work Cut Out for Us Series addressed HGTV Homebuyers who wanted the urban living. Part 2, discussed those who prefer the suburbs. And now the Part 3 comments regardless of city or suburb. Here we go.

1) I want stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, hardwood floors, four bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, a big master bedroom with luxurious ensuite, double sinks, a large yard, and turn key in this exclusive neighborhood for $105,000 – Assuming that you are not moving to suburban Atlanta, you’ll need to make some serious compromises with your “must haves.” I would rather that you not show your ignorance by you’re not yielding on the requirements that you must have a gargantuan-sized master bedroom with an elephantine-sided walk-in closet. Please save it for your next house.

2) I don’t like the appliances – Does the stove cook the food? Does the oven bake? Does the dishwasher dish wash? Please don’t ignore a home with good bones because the appliances are white and not stainless steel. Save your money and get your H.H. Gregg top-of-the-line appliances further down the line. Meanwhile, it will not kill you that the kitchen has all white appliances.

3) I hate the wall color – Guess what? I heard that Lowes, Home Depot, and even Walmart sells paint now. Go on and pick you out a color.

4) I hate the alley out back – I need you to go to your computer and Google “TND – Traditional Neighborhood Development.” While you are doing that, I’ll be over here with the other urban planners as we do a collective roll over.

5) I want “Open Concept” – I’m not sure blowing out walls works with every floor plan, but to each his own.

6) This room is too small for our furniture – Or…Your furniture is too big for the room. What is more important? The house you love, which is an investment of a lifetime, or your couch?

7) Low-ballers – Let’s have some real talk right here. I understand wanting to save a buck or two, but if you ever in your life, offer to buy my house way below market value, low-balling, not only will I reject your offer, I will not even consider a counter from you. At all. I don’t care how long my house has been sitting on the market. I will go on Buying and Selling and get Drew and Jonathan Smith to fix my house, and let them get me a good deal. See, just like you are trying to fulfill your American dream and buy a nice house, so am I. Don’t you dare mess with my dream trying to get yours for less than what it is worth. So stop low balling!

That is all. This is the end of my HGTV rant and the reason why as far as Gentrifying Your Own Self! goes, we’ve got a lot of work to do in convincing the masses. Unless we can get that huge yard, three car garage, six bedrooms, and on-going list of over the top must-haves in the ‘hoods, most people aren’t trying to move there. But…I could be wrong. I sure hope I am.

10 Things You Need to Know When Visiting Hilton Head Island (Part 2)

As promised in Part 1, I was going to get a little deeper in Part 2, so here goes…

7) We Islanders HATE the name “Plantation.” – As mentioned in #8, Hilton Head’s subdivided communities are called, plantations. The term is demeaning. While some Americans have romantic notions of the Antebellum South, others do not and would prefer that community names on Hilton Head be amended in a manner that embraces the 21st Century. Just how hard is it to sub the word plantation with subdivision? I think that Hilton Head Subdivision has a nice ring to it.

6) Gated Communities give a false sense of security. – As a planner, I am talking to the Plantation Powers-That-Be, letting them know that gates (manned or otherwise) are a bad idea. While you think you’re providing security to residents and guests, all you’re saying to the would-be criminals is “rob me.” Criminals target gated areas because they know that residents and guests feel safe enough to let down their guard. In my opinion, the best security to have is a vigilant neighborhood watch program, heavy locks, and a good security system. If you want to know the truth though, I personally think the gates are aimed to keep “me” out. Please know that I’m not interested in robbing a home. I’m just an islander in search of beach access.

5) Learn the History. – To piggyback off of #8, I invite visitors to do other than tan, bike ride, golf, and tennis. Learn the history of Hilton Head. Visit some historic sites. Here are some good suggestions of places to learn about and visit:

*Gullah Heritage Tours
*Mitchellville
*Union Cemetery
*Drayton Plantation Slave Tabby Ruins (Covered in the Gullah Heritage Tour)
*Queen Chapel African Methodist Episcopalian Church (You may also be interested in this post)
*First African Baptist Church
*Greens Shell Enclosure (Indian Shell Ring)
*Honey Horn Plantation (This is a real plantation, so it’s okay to use the term here)

Now, if you want a sense of history in a fictional novel, with real historic elements, I invite you to purchase The Promise of Palmettos and Marshland, both available on Amazon. (Hey my blog, my shameless plug ;).)

This is a good place to leave off for now. Stay tuned for Part 3 of 10 Things You Need to Know When Visiting Hilton Head.

Going to Town

My Grandmama always called going to Savannah "Going to Town".

My Grandmama always called going to Savannah “Going to Town”.

When I was growing up, the roads coming off of the bridge toward Bluffton were two lanes.  Now they're six...

When I was growing up, the roads coming off of the bridge toward Bluffton were two lanes. Now they’re six…

When I was a teenager and this area was all trees, I was told by Hilton Head's first Black planner on that Bluffton would be lined with businesses within the next fifteen years...

When I was a teenager and this area was all trees, I was told by Hilton Head’s first Black planner on that Bluffton would be lined with businesses within the next fifteen years…

If you will allow me to put on my planner's hat for a moment, I would like to point out that businesses in this area have strict height, façade, and sign requirements.

If you will allow me to put on my planner’s hat for a moment, I would like to point out that businesses in this area have strict height, façade, and sign requirements.

Signs have to be a particular height and blend in with the unimposing façade.

Signs have to be a particular height and blend in with the unimposing façade.

During this stretch, the road to Savannah is untouched from when I was young. Dense trees line either side of the road.

During this stretch, the road to Savannah is untouched from when I was young. Dense trees line either side of the road.

As a former transportation planner, I still don't understand the reason for the sudden roundabout in the middle of Highway 46, but here it is...

As a former transportation planner, I still don’t understand the reason for the sudden roundabout in the middle of Highway 46, but here it is…

Although Georgia is the "Peach State," you can't go anywhere in South Carolina without running into a roadside peach stand...

Although Georgia is the “Peach State,” you can’t go anywhere in South Carolina without running into a roadside peach stand…

The Talmage Bridge looms in the distance. It's visible for a moment before hiding once again behind the landscape. It's the bridge's way of letting the motorist know that it's still there and in order to arrive at your destination of Savannah, GA, it must be crossed....  My design teacher at UNO taught me that road planners do this hide-and-seek with a prominent feature on purpose. It makes it interesting.

The Talmage Bridge looms in the distance. It’s visible for a moment before hiding once again behind the landscape. It’s the bridge’s way of letting the motorist know that it’s still there and in order to arrive at your destination of Savannah, GA, it must be crossed…. My design teacher at UNO taught me that road planners do this hide-and-seek with a prominent feature on purpose. It makes it interesting.

Talmage Bridge

The Talmage Bride used to be a smaller green drawbridge that ships used to hit because they couldn’t clear the structure. Now, it’s steeper, higher, and not for the faint of heart…

The Victory Drive Palm Trees in Savannah, GA is a three-mile long memorial for the servicemen who fought in World War I.

The Victory Drive Palm Trees in Savannah, GA are a three-mile long memorial for the servicemen who fought in World War I.

Fort Pulaski is a historical landmark that one might find on the way to Tybee Island.

Fort Pulaski is a historical landmark that one might find on the way to Tybee Island.

So this is the beach on Tybee Island.  Dad said that when he went to college at Savannah State College (University now), Black people were not allowed to go to the Beach here.  He said that it was fine with him because he knew where the best beach was and that was home on Hilton Head Island.  Soon the Black people in Savannah discovered that they were welcome on Hilton Head and went to the beach on the island by the busloads.  Well today, we are somewhat  welcome although I still prefer the beach of home.  No matter which beach I go to though, I feel like I'm standing on the edge of the earth as I look out at the horizon.

So this is the beach on Tybee Island. Dad said that when he went to college at Savannah State College (University now), Black people were not allowed to go to the Beach here. He said that it was fine with him because he knew where the best beach was and that was home on Hilton Head Island. Soon the Black people in Savannah discovered that they were welcome on Hilton Head and went to the beach on the island by the busloads. Well today, we are somewhat welcome although I still prefer the beach of home. No matter which beach I go to though, I feel like I’m standing on the edge of the earth as I look out at the horizon.

…In Closing

Today was the closing ceremony for the 2013 American Planning Association in Chicago, Ill. I am going to spend this last planning blog discussing the last three conferences:

Denver – Denver was my second trip out west. For some strange reason, jet lag didn’t conquer me as much as it did in Seattle. Kevin and I took the Ski Train to Winter Park. After speaking with an older planner, who had made skiing his hobby, we thought that we would put aside our own reservations and give it a try. However, the Winter Park Trip was a comedy of errors. For one thing, the altitude in Knoxville has nothing on the Mile High City, and we actually became too ill to follow through on that ambition. I’m pretty sure that our limbs and backsides heaved a huge sigh of relief. We were content to watch skiers fly down the fluffy white snow from the huge floor to ceiling windows in the lodge. When we felt a little better, we found ourselves wondering around that shopping center that was in that Tyler Perry Movie, Why Did I Get Married. The second issue is that I tore my contact lens and was forced into wearing my glasses. I was not to happy having to attend the remainder of the conference looking like Mr. Magoo’s Sister.

Denver was like Chicago in that it had extreme weather. When we arrived in the city it was freezing cold and snow had recently fallen. Then practically the next day, we’re walking past a snow drift in 80 degree weather. Towards the end of the conference week, the weather had settled into mild temperatures. What I liked about Denver was its transportation system and its proximity to homes and businesses. Kevin and I found that we could travel practically everywhere using Denver Transit, which is its light-rail system.

‘Ms. M’ attended the Denver Conference accompanied by ‘Mr. D,’ who was also a planner. At this point we thought about creating a, “Finding a Planner Spouse” seminar and setting up a panel discussion. The four of us had a good time at dinner where I had learned of their upcoming nuptials. We also visited the African-American museum, where we found that Black people played a prominent role in the settlement of the West. *Singing Buffalo Soldiers*. If you ever visit Denver, I recommend dropping by the museum. Denver was indeed an enjoyable city to visit.

2007- Philadelphia – Kevin and I were pretty much on our own for this conference as most of our planner friends were unable to attend this conference. On the bright side, we were able to meet ‘Ms. D’ there. ‘Ms D’ and I became friends during a summer course in Historic Preservation. UNO hosted students from all over that summer. ‘Ms. D’ was from New York. It was a very eventful summer but I’ll save that for another blog post although I have talked about our Mississippi River Road trip in this post. To my delight, ‘Ms. D’ returned to New Orleans to obtain a Master’s Degree in Historic preservation from Tulane. From there she had gotten a job in Philadelphia (during the New York APA Conference actually) and had been in the city ever since. Anyway, I hadn’t seen ‘Ms. D’ since our wedding, so I was excited to see her during this conference. By Philadelphia, I was no longer practicing planning – see this post – so I waited for Kevin to attend his sessions and then the free time belonged to the two of us. Of course we visited Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, but the highlight our sightseeing can be found in this previous blog.

So Philadelphia was the last conference Kevin and I attended. I do have one more conference to blog about, however.

2005 San Francisco – This was the conference to which I had most looked forward. Kevin and I had talked about going to San Francisco for years. From Kevin, I had heard it was a beautiful city to visit and I had never been to California. We did not make it to the San Francisco American Planning Association Conference, by the way. The conference had been held starting on March 19th. Our son was born nine days later…

Will Kevin and I ever attend an American Planning Association Conference again? That remains to be seen. But you may see us donning a name tag again or you just may see us wandering around a city where the conference is being held pointing out the neighborhoods and “ah-kitechture”. Maybe.

2003 – D.C. Debut

This is another short, sweet, and to the point…

Kevin and I drove into D.C. It was our first American Planning Association Conference as “old married people. The actual conference didn’t stick in my memory as much as I would have liked. More of my memory comes from what occurred outside of the event. I have always loved D.C. The Greco-Roman Architecture, the original design of the streets, the history, this city has it all. It’s a great place for a conference of planners. Kevin and I spent this time walking near Georgetown and in Adams Morgan, but we didn’t go to the Mall like most people who visit the city. I think as planners we are more interested in neighborhoods. I love the rowhomes. We actually peeked at a couple in the neighborhood next to Howard University, particularly one belonging to my aunt and uncle. We knocked on the door, but they weren’t home… ‘Ms. A’ attended this conference but alas, ‘Ms. M,’ didn’t make it, thus breaking up our trio. Many of our friends did not attend this conference. It happens. As we work for different organizations and under certain circumstances of timing and/or funny money, it can be difficult to make APA. It’s sad when you think about a lot of people who you are used to seeing at conferences are not in attendance. At this point, it’s not just the sessions, the workshops, or the events, it’s the people who you connect with every year that makes these conferences memorable. At least, that’s why I remember them.

2002- Chicago Changes

The Chicago American Planning Association Conference took place two months before our wedding. I would call Chicago a significant time for me. I’ll get to the point with this one.

1. I learned that Chicago has the most extreme weather of any place I have ever visited (“Cussin’ Cold” during the beginning of the week and hot as hades during the latter part).

2. It was the last conference where my name badge would read, “Sheryse Grant.”

3. It was the last conference that ‘Ms. A,’ ‘Ms. M,’ and I would attend a conference together.

4. We actually went to that night club that caught fire nine months later resulting in a deadly stampede.

5. I learned that Frank Lloyd Wright was a brilliant architect thanks to an awesome mobile workshop.

6. From the park to the hotel is an especially long walk…especially if you walk in the wrong direction.

7. I learned that Long Island Iced Tea is not my friend.

8. Most importantly, I was surrounded by people who love me, and I love them.

That’s pretty much all I have for that one…