I used to live in New York City. I designed homes for the tycoons of Wall Street; Park Avenue, Scarsdale, Greenwich. It was great fun. And, after years of saving up for a down payment, I was just about to buy my own little place in Fleetwood, half an hour north of the city, when the economy fell apart. Architects are like canaries in a coal mine when the economy slows, and true to form, there were massive layoffs in firms all over the country. Devastation of the profession. So, I decided to try to find something else to do for a while. I bought a 23' school bus and I'm on the road to see if I can figure out what that might be.
Monday, February 1, 2010
A new thing
Leaving my home base here at Kathleen Johnson's Katrina Relief program in Poplarville, Ms. brings sadness. There are so many wonderfully hearted people here I will miss daily contact with. I must get on the road to Ms. Pearl's, but before I go and become overwhelmed by what ever lies ahead, I want to take time to mention just two.
I adore Kathleen and have told her many times. She's brash, opinionated, hard to keep on one subject, and brilliant on many. She has been truly generous to me, offering unlimited access to everything here. "Do what ever you want" she has said to any request I had for photos, computer use, use of an office, the refrigerator... While here, I prepared a series of plans and elevations for the construction of clusters of prefabricated MEMA cottages to be built on tall piles, above the flood plane. The clusters will share a common stair and common lift, and will have a common deck so that neighbors in a cluster, many of whom are elderly or disabled, can socialize and share burdens and resources. I told Kathleen that I will remain available and eager to help Bill and Julie rebuild their trailer park according to these plans.
Mike, a long term "transitional resident", had survived Katrina in his trailer home, but was flipped over 4 times by the wind. He escaped an survived by climbing out his front door which was then directly above him. Not wanting to be blown away by the wind, he dove into a nearby pond and crouched down to leave just his head exposed above the water. It worked. Mike, a native of Kentucky, lost everything, except his half ownership of a some property. Mike had previously, 1992, lost his wife in a freak accidental explosion of his paining business warehouse. Soon, Mike's health declined, and he spiraled down, survived Katrina, and was eventually taken in here by Kathleen. Mike has a heavy southern accent, a booming baritone voice, and is a terrific story teller with great detail, pace, and absolute frankness and sincerity about everything. Though I can't imagine a person from a background more different than mine, I love Mike, and so I was delighted to fulfill as best I could his request for a sketch of a water wagon for his church group.
OK, I'm off to.... well, I don't really know :-)