I'm back. And with those simple words the complexity returns. First of all, I had a really fun time visiting friends and destinations in Europe over the past 3 weeks. It was a once in a lifetime experience in honor of my wife and my 30th wedding anniversary and we feel incredibly lucky to have had the chance. We will no doubt be living in a box down by the river in our retirement years (I thought the euro was failing?) but you never know if you're going to make it that far. So if we do, we'll have our memories to keep us warm as we fight for Asian carp filets with the other boomer box-dwellers.

Did I come back with any shining rays of inspiration from my travels, you ask? Something that might help us over here as we attempt to rebuild our future on the foundations of a floundering economy and pre-emptive political posturing?Something other than the overuse of alliteration? Good question. I think the biggest take-away impression from my three country tour of Spain, France and England is the mixed-use nature of most of their urban environments. Now, they have an incredible stock of 3 to 6 story buildings that have enormous character as well as a long history of density. Finding homes with lawns like we have in StAP would take you far away from the city center, if at all. But then, we are relatively unique even for our metro area, that's part of our charm.

Still, their definition of what constitutes a built community is much broader and more inclusive. Consequently, their expectations for space - both personal and residential - are much less. A broadbrush comparison of our respective histories supports the observation that Europeans have lived in density pretty much since feudal times if not before and that North Americans kept moving west to avoid it. However you might characterize it, we definitely are coming from different pasts and that accounts for some of our differences. But as we move toward increased density as a means of saving energy and accommodating our growing urban population, we could do worse than to look at how similarly-sized urban centers in other countries make that kind of community work. Europe's cities are diverse and inclusive due to the free trade zone. I can't speak to living wage opportunities, but many retail and I assume non-retail positions are held by young non-native workers. The innovation and creativity this breeds as differing cultures spark off each other is evident everywhere 
and makes for a really fun atmosphere. If we can figure an affordable way to provide the infrastructure (transportation, healthcare, etc.) I'm confident we have the capacity and ingenuity to make it all work. I know that's a big if, but it all starts with community - working together.

As for the local scene, you all have a much better idea of what's been going on around here. I did have some internet connection while gone so I read about the horrible parking accident at the Bistro, the wonderful success of this year's art festival and the various end of the year fun at the schools. Here are a couple of things I want to follow up on now that I'm back.

First, the Foundation has launched the drive for a coffee table book of photos of StAP. We are looking for pledges and photos that show those things that make this neighborhood special. Go to our website and click on photobook on the menu, it will give you all the info you need. We have set a goal of two months to get enough pledges to pay for the production of the book, so please sign up and support what I think will be something everyone in the Park will want to have.

Second, the co-officing space I work in on Wednesdays, the 3rd Place, is looking for some more members. The original managers are moving on and the Foundation is trying to figure out how to make it self-sustaining. If you are looking for a spot to work in, or meet with your group, give me a call. We think this is an important asset for our community and want to keep it around. Membership is $60/mo for access Tues-Thurs from 9-5pm, $90 for access 24/7.

StAPnotes - our first Park B4 Dark event is coming up next week on Thursday, June 21 form 5-8pm. There will be music, specials and a chance to meet your neighbors. Plan to come down and join us for the fun...if you've seen some activity around the old parsonage on Cleveland by the Emily Program, it's being rehabbed so they can move some of their current operations from the old church space the program has been using for the past couple years. Sounds like less of an expansion than a reshuffling. If you were fortunate enough to attend the open house for either of the Program's facilities in the Park, you know they will do a lovely job and make the new space an asset for our community.

That's all for now, take care of yourself and be a good neighbor.