Gentrify Your Own Self: The Hubby Edition

Please welcome guest blogger and my husband, Kevin Edward DuBose, who has some insight into this recent winter snowstorm and why it is becoming increasingly important to Gentrify Your Own Self! I expect he will be gracing us more with his blogging talent in the future. Without further ado, I would like to present Gentrify Your Own Self: The Hubby Edition.

Courtesy of USA Today

Courtesy of USA Today

The snowpacalytic events of the past couple of days have motivated me to jump in on the Gentrify Your Own Self! movement and put in my two cents. I think the missus is on to something with her recent blog posts. Be warned, I am not the writer she is. However, like my better half, I am a trained city planner. And I too see something incredibly wrong with our American Dream. In fact, symptoms of the problem are being played out live and in color on CNN as I type this. Yes I am talking the weather but I am also talking about our lifestyles.

Poor Atlanta! They are the poster children of dysfunction today. And the rest of the country wonders how two inches of snow can shut down the Capital of the South. The Governor of Georgia is blaming the weatherman. The CNN anchorwoman is ‘tryna read’ the Mayor of Atlanta (Notice my quoting the Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA) there…) Ms. Anchorwoman should proceed with caution, because Mayor Kasim Reed don’t play (excuse the grammar please). His neighbor is Khandi Buress and she will send Momma Joyce and her aunties up there to tell her something. Meanwhile, in the midst of this madness, people are stuck on the highways and kids are disconnected from their families while they ride out the situation in their school lunchrooms.

Would we have this problem, if we truly had neighborhood schools like we used to? Let’s face it, the neighborhood school thing is dead. We keep sending our kids further and further away to school and we continue to move further away from the urban core. Back in the day, if a kid was stuck at the school or in route home, no problem. Momma or Daddy or someone would strap on the timberlands and hike up to the school. Problem solved. A snow day used to be a grand thing. We are getting out early? Cool! Let the cabbage patch dancing begin! Now we are terrified about our buses sliding off a rural road or children being stuck miles away from home.

So who is really to blame here? Well the problem is us. Yes you and me and everyone else trying to make the Joneses green with envy. My wife has discussed the HGTV house hunter mindset that is destroying our urban core. I won’t rehash that. But please note that our neighborhood busting ways are causing major problems with regard to urban services. Our kids don’t go to school within 2-3 miles anymore. We don’t have sidewalks (in most communities) any more. Thus, the simple task of getting kids home on a snowy day is a bigger challenge than it should be.

So what is the answer? How can we fix the problem? Urban schools are being closed by the dozens every year while new state-of-the-art schools are being built in the suburbs. Families who live in the urban areas drive by closed and abandoned schools to take their kids to whatever is left. Suburban kids have 45-minute bus rides to and from school. I feel like Dap on School Daze, as I scream “Waaaaake Uuuuuup!” people.

Unlike my wife, I am not suggesting that you consider the incredible cute cottages and Victorian houses in the old neighborhood as places to raise your family. Forget about those split level houses and 1950 ranchers that dot the neighborhoods around downtown. You don’t want to live where schools are in walking distance and sidewalks connect the commercial areas and parks. You deserve a big 5000 square foot house for you and little Fluffy the Poodle. You deserve that three car garage and double tray ceiling. Stay where you are. In fact, move even further away from the City. Meanwhile, I have got a fool proof plan to fix everything. Drum roll please! The way to fix the problem is real simple people (Why do I have to think of these things?) Here is the concept: Let’s put the schools inside of WalMart. I guarantee there is one of those close to everyone in the suburbs. And we can always get to Walmart. The road to Walmart is the best salted road in the entire neighborhood.

And as Ne Ne Leakes of RHOA would say after she makes her point, Boop!


…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.