NOT SOLD: Rohn Muse is among those who've resisted clearance of his neighborhood for an office building.
Dr. Anika Whitfield, a podiatrist who's been among the most outspoken in the central Little Rock neighborhood targeted for demolition to build the taxpayer-financed Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce spec technology park office building, has more to say today, inspired by the demolition of Ray Winder Field for a UAMS parking lot.
Why not look there for Technology Park acreage, she asks.
She also talks about the meaning of blight, inspired by a recent lecturer at the Clinton School, Dr. Mindy Fullilove, a writer and teacher at Columbia University. To those cheering the destruction of residential neighborhoods for an office building, the project is "blight removal." (And we'll worry later where the human element of that blight will rest once they are made home clearance refugees.) Comments Whitfield:
Dr. Fullilove proposes that blighted really means to those who use it, "not mine". In other words, as long as something is not yours and you don't see the value in it, like someone else's home, it is ok (or at least one tries to justify that it is ok) to destroy it, redefine it, and mistreat it because after all it is "blighted" (doesn't belong to me).
That captures the insensitivity with which the powers-that-be view this neighborhood. Just an obstacle to a bit of real estate speculation and corporate welfare.
Joyce Williams, another of those human beings interested in preserving a residential neighborhood, has also distributed a note responding to Whitfield's and commenting on those who decide the fate of neighborhoods.
They wear suits, have great material resources, plan in private and make every effort to present a civilized public face but have proven they are will run their planned agenda at the expense of the community.
Both notes follow in full. Whitfield has received one response from city officials, from City Director Joan Adcock:
Thank you for your email, I agree
FROM ANIKA WHITFIELD
As I looked upon the demolition of what once was Ray Winder Field while passing through my neighborhood Friday evening, on the other side of I-630, I couldn't help but notice the sadness in the moment.
Sadness because an historical place and fabric of my community and our city is being demolished to become a parking lot, pavement with out a picture, connection, or meaningful purpose to the neighbors in a location that once housed activity, community, hope, and amazing possibilities to our neighbors and neighborhood. A parking lot that will serve only the people who come and go in and out to work. A parking lot that will replace history with no regard or apology! It doesn't get much sadder than this unless you drive back over to the other side of I-630 (south).
There you will see the building of a meaningful Children's Library that sits in a neighborhood filled with kids and families who desire to enjoy the comforts of a healthy neighborhood. And, yet there is a lingering sadness because this picture is not so perfect. In fact, it has a scarlet stain that is so illusive that unless you see it, you will miss it and it's potential great harm to this community. It is the stain of the foot prints of a Technology Park that hopes to displace these thriving residents from their homes, this new library and their neighborhood to build a Technology Park on top of their dreams and future.
It is not true that the Forest Hills Neighborhood or the other two neighborhoods (Oak Forest and Fair Park) are blighted, unless one uses the definition I heard while listening to Dr. Mindy Fullilove, Columbia University Professor and writer of "Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America and What We Can Do About It.". Dr. Fullilove proposes that blighted really means to those who use it, "not mine". In other words, as long as something is not yours and you don't see the value in it, like someone else's home, it is ok (or at least one tries to justify that it is ok) to destroy it, redefine it, and mistreat it because after all it is "blighted" (doesn't belong to me).
So, as I drove in front of what use to be Ray Winder Field, once partly owned by the city of Little Rock ow owned by UAMS, I almost considered the demolition project a blighted area in my community. But, wisdom reminded me that more than blighted it is a sad abuse of power and wealth. It is a representation of misuse, abuse, and disregard to people, their history and their community. I felt more like it was rape. Taking something that once belonged to me, my neighbors, and this city and forcefully using it for a selfish purpose against our will. I could hear the cries of anguish as I looked at the piles of the body of Ray Winder Field that now lies broken by the evil hands that raped it of its dignity and meaning for itself and this community.
No, this sadness is a RAPING that I hope to bring to the attention of the authorities that can bring to justice the rapist and the perpetrators that continue to rape communities. Rapist that try to prevent communities to develop and enjoy the economic stability and power as do they. But, as with most rapist, the victims are "blighted" not because of how they look, but because the rapist sees no human or moral value in the victim.
Now, that type of ideology to be what I consider "blighted" because that is certainly not me nor my ideology.
I wonder why a Tech Park that would "serve the community" isn't being built there as a towering presence of hope that springs eternal? There is a way to preserve the history of my neighborhood while arresting that rapist mentality and redeeming itself through an act of humanity and respect for the one it once sought to hurt: Build the Tech Park where Ray Winder Field once sat off of I-630 (instead of a parking lot) honoring the legacy of an American baseball field where playing fairly is celebrated!
Peace and Blessings, Anika
FROM JOYCE WILLIAMS
Thank you for your timely, sensitive message herein. Death and destruction to neighborhoods, families and individuals is what happens when people are seen as disposable and in the way of goals set by those with political power and control of wealth and resources. There is a point of no return when those who have lost their moral compass and have no consicious temporarily rule. Dictators like Assad, mass murderers, Voldermort, and others who couldn't care less about the greater good have lost their way as have those who decided (in private) a long time ago what they were going to do to neighborhoods and families in Little Rock. They wear suits, have great material resources, plan in private and make every effort to present a civilized public face but have proven they are will run their planned agenda at the expense of the community.
Interest in leasing space in the Little Rock Technology Park under construction in the 400 block of Main Street is a "comfortable amount" for this stage in the project, Authority board chair Kevin Zaffaroni said today at the board's monthly meeting. He declined to say how many floors of the first building to open, at 417 Main St., that comfortable amount might include, since no leases are final. /more/
City Year, the Americorps program that has put volunteers in Little Rock schools since 2004, will join city business leaders today in a partnership to be based at Hall High School in the 2016-17 school year. /more/
The Civic Advisory Committee of the Little Rock School District tonight approved a motion calling for the replacement of Education Commissioner Johnny Key, a halt to charter school expansions in the city and waivers to state education law, and a return of the district to local control. /more/
Now that the Stephens properties on Main Street and Fifth have been sold to The Little Rock Technology Park, what is Stephens' share in the Metrocentre Improvement District assets, I wondered as I wrote yesterday's item on the potential sale of Henry Moore's "Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge." /more/
I don't guess I should have expected better from the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce than "concern" on the Hutchinson administration's undeserved ouster of Baker Kurrus as Little Rock school superintendent. /more/
The Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce has been mum on the public transit tax to be voted on March 1, but not the North Little Rock chamber: It announced today its support for the 0.25-cent increase for Rock Region Metro operations, saying it would "provide the agency the autonomy needed to make the current transit route system more efficient and responsive to our community's changing mobility demands and support more, better and modern bus service to central Arkansans." /more/
Dr. Mary Good, who has been the chair of the Little Rock Technology Park Authority board since its formation as a nonprofit in 2011, informed UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson in a letter Jan. 20 that she will step down March 15, it was announced at Wednesday's tech park board meeting. She said she would stay longer, if needed, until her replacement is named. /more/
A federal court has blocked the University of North Carolina from enforcing the anti-LGBT North Carolina law intended to block transgender people from using bathroom and other facilities for their gender identity.
A college student and his dad who visited a gun range over the weekend for some bonding time over target practice were told to leave after the owner grew suspicious that the pair were...Muslims! Nope, not Muslims — they just happened to not be white. Either way, though, it's rank discrimination.
Lawyers in Little Rock and Fayetteville have filed federal suit in the Western District against Walmart, Target and Walgreens stores for selling herbal products that an investigation in New York discovered contained little or n one of the ingredients advertised on the bottle.
The University of Texas opened classes in Austin this week with a bit of student protest. The "Cocks Not Glocks" campaign encourages students to carry dildos and sex toys to mock the beginning of a new state law that allows concealed weapons on campus.
On residency requirements for LRPD officers and why many of his officers choose to live outside the city, community policing, mass incarceration, juvenile justice, assault rifles and gun control and more.
We take a visit to the weekly hot check court in Sherwood District Court, the subject of a recent civil rights lawsuit filed by ACLU Arkansas and others, who say the system there results in a modern-day debtor's prison