Lexington is now entering its second summer growing season without breaking ground on the CentrePointe block. With the exception of some stealthy picnics, an Irish festival and a couple minutes—total—of stolen sports action, an entire downtown city block has been rendered off limits to an entire city for nearly one-and-a-half years, an urban dead zone with suburban lawn aesthetics.
For this pathetic state of affairs we should blame ourselves. We spent a good amount of time last summer imagining the CentrePointe of our dreams, but not so much time, as Tom Eblen might say, doing something about it. When CentrePointe went out to pasture, so did we.
With that in mind, we call on Lexington residents to demand and claim their right to the block.
Follow the lead of those everyday artists who make the city come alive through their papered announcements stuck on wooden electric poles and abandoned magazine racks. Draw up your own plans for the CentrePointe block and staple, paste and etch them into the planks of the CentrePointe fences that keep you out. Paper the block alive once again with your poetry and prose, your cartoons and artist renderings. Record and inscribe the block’s past and its future, what it once was and what it can be.
One idea is easily discarded, torn down, forgotten. Twenty can carefully be swept under the grass clippings. But two-hundred, two-thousand ideas covering the CP fences? That is something else, something else altogether.
But we mustn’t stop with symbolic action. We must demand that the space be used productively. This year. And we should demand this in public and as loud and as often as possible.
Dudley Webb has already stated that he will not disturb the CentrePointe site until after the World Equestrian Games. The area is essentially rendered inert for the summer and part of fall. This is an unacceptable use of that central space. The best productive use of CentrePointe is not as an unusable and excessively large front lawn—its current situation. We demand more.
The rights of private property are not inviolable. They must be questioned, tested and at times even trampled upon. We–everyone but the small group of people who own the land–can no longer remain inactive on the false premise that unused Webb property is sacred.
We demand a public garden whose main purpose will be to help feed the poor, hungry and homeless–people whom many Lexingtonians finally discovered last week during the Creative Cities Summit when Bill Strickland spoke about his experiences in poor Pittsburgh. Such an idea for the block is surely something that city residents can support—at least those who have been talking in public and in print, on the campaign trail and in conference meetings, of the need to merge “creative” acts with issues of social justice. Having our community leaders support and lay the groundwork for such a venture—to demand and not just to ask for it to happen—could be quite a thing to see.
The public input of our civic, creative, agricultural and community leaders will be important as the rest of us—either with or without the support of those leaders (though hopefully with it)–begin to till the earth and plant our seeds. Our job is to do the most creative (and simple) of acts: doing. The immediate future of CentrePointe need not be decided by them. It can be decided by you.
Who will be the first to paper the fencing? Who will take the first soil sample? What farm groups will offer their time to utilize a 1-season garden in a place that is ground zero for public visibility? What politicians will offer political support? Who will transgress that most sacred of laws, private property, and demand that the city be run according to its inhabitants’ needs—and not the failed desires of its owners? What cultural centers will publicly endorse trespassing to do something they themselves know is right? What support networks–legal, social, economic–will we demand and work towards in this city, in this summer of growing?