Sep 292010
 

“Emergency” shelters set up

By Jeff Gross

Last Friday, central Kentucky began playing host to “the world,” as we’ve been repeatedly told. “Company’s coming” has been the refrain and late last week Mayor Newberry sent an email telling residents to “sweep the front porch” for our guests: “When we have company at our house, one of the last things we do is sweep off the front porch so our guests have a good first impression.  Now is time for each of us to think of the few last minute things we can do to make sure Lexington’s guests have a good first impression.”

Evidently, one of the “last minute things” has been consideration for the homeless in downtown.

Until October 10, downtown streets will be closed in the evening, filling with festival-goers for live music and medal ceremonies. Normal patterns of downtown life will be suspended, especially for those who live on the streets and in Phoenix Park. Continue reading »

Aug 252010
 

Homelessness in our communities

By Jeff Gross

(Editor’s note: This article is part two of Jeff’s series based on his work with and for people experiencing homelessness in Lexington. In his last piece, he introduced the Catholic Action Center and the Street Voice Council.)

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, I was sitting in Phoenix Park, near the downtown public library at the corner of Limestone and Main. I counted 27 people in the park, most of whom were sitting on benches and carrying on private conversations. Two police officers on bicycles talked to each other and watched the park. All-in-all, the park was a clean and quiet environment. Despite its tranquil atmosphere this particular Wednesday, Phoenix Park is an often-contested space in the heart of Lexington.

Photo by Hilary Brown

Phoenix Park with daytime residents. Photo by Hilary Brown.

The homeless and marginally homed, the vast majority of people who inhabit the park on an average workday, see it as a space for community, a safe place where they can get together to make it through the day.

For some downtown business owners, though, these park users are seen as a threat to business.

In the public discussion over the character and purpose of the park, the problem has been that the voices of the homeless and marginally homed have been the most muted in the struggle over the park’s future. Yet, these are the people the most personally affected by decisions made about Phoenix Park. Continue reading »

Jun 232010
 

CD Central, Morris Book Shop, Void Skateshop, and Buster’s present the 3rd of July Concert @ Phoenix Park

For my money, there’s no better way to spend your Independence Day afternoon than at Phoenix Park. Whether or not you’re amongst those of us who take this opportunity to drink downtown with impunity, the Fourth ‘o July at Phoenix—now in its eighth year—is your chance to check out some great live music smack in the middle of downtown Lexington.  Just like Americans, this music is free.  But, for a few reasons, this year’s festivities will be a little different than in years past.

For starters, the Fourth will actually be celebrated on the Saturday the Third.  Don’t screw this up; 3 is the new 4. Continue reading »

Jun 202010
 

CD Central, Morris Book Shop, Void Skateshop, and Buster’s present the 3rd of July Concert @ Phoenix Park

For my druthers, there’s no better way to spend your Independence Day afternoon than at Phoenix Park. Whether or not you’re amongst those of us who take this opportunity to drink downtown with impunity, the Fourth ‘o July at Phoenix—now in its eighth year—is your chance to check out some great live music smack in the middle of downtown Lexington.  Just like Americans, this music is free.  But, for a few reasons, this year’s festivities will be a little different than in years past.

For starters, the Fourth will actually be celebrated on the Saturday the Third.  Don’t screw this up; 3 is the new 4.

Second, it will be hotter than ever this year, as the park’s only grassy area, once a popular spot for picnicking and lounging, has been paved over to create a new firefighter’s memorial.  An eternal flame dedicated to firefighters seems ironic and paganistically sanctimonious to me.  But the park is, I’m assuming, dutifully approximating its namesake with the extra-radiant concrete standing in for the burning pyres of the Phoenix myth; We, The People will have risen from the ashes when we peel our smoldering keisters off this concrete parkland—should we dare sit.  A nearby memorial to firefighters burned alive, compounded by the promise of fireworks, is too much to comment upon, so I digress…

Third: there should be a new sidewalk completed on the corner of Main and Limestone by Independence Day Eve.  This offers a sexier, sleeker place to survey the exotic flatland known as The Centrepointe, or to marvel at the simplicity of the fountain before the new courthouse known as “the bum shower.”

Lastly, there are more new bands playing this year, and you’re likely to hear something you’ve never heard before.  Here’s the lineup:

11 a.m.—The Bleats (melodic pop rock)

12 noon—Randy Tuesday & the Two Two Tuesdays (50s/60s pop cover song barrage)

1 p.m.—Ford Theatre Reunion (vaudeville rock)

3:30 p.m.—Rough Customers (ska/punk)

4:30 p.m.—Frank Rocket (punk/surf)

See you there!