Good Fences Make for Good Neighbors–Cultural Challenges in a Microcosm

 

 

Newly finished homes and back yards in housing development outside of Frankfurt, Germany

Newly finished homes and back yards in housing development outside of Frankfurt, Germany

In Frankfort I spent time with a young friend and his wife.  They had recently bought a brand new home in a new development just northeast of the city center.  Only a year ago the area had been made up of rolling hills, farm houses and luscious crops. The development is so new that many of the small yards associated with the new homes are still unplanted and construction of new homes is ongoing all around their home. In my friends’ house they are part of a eight unit row of attached homes (similar to our row or town houses) with shared walls and contiguous yards.  To date no fences have been built between the back yards still in the process of development.  Therein lies the rub. Continue reading

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Gone With The Wind–The Asarco Stacks Are No More

A belching giant among pigmy water cannons

A belching giant among pigmy water cannons

On April 13th, early in the morning, a major portion of El Paso’s skyline for almost fifty years, the Asarco stacks,  disappeared and,  literally, were “gone with the wind.”  First the 620 ft. smaller stack and then the larger 828 ft. iconic stack were felled within seconds of the detonation of hundreds of pounds of dynamite placed in both of them.  Hundreds (if not thousands) of witnesses got up early for the pre-dawn event, occupying key points around the Asarco plant to watch the historic demolition of these majestic stacks.  For some it was a moment of joy, a closing of an era with bad memories of pollution, bad smells and an old, dirty industry.  For many of us though it was a sad occasion, signaling an end to an era rich in history, good and bad, but also removing from our landscape a major symbol of that history and the cultural heritage it represented.   For those of us who wished to preserve the stacks it took away an opportunity to not only celebrate our past but to use the stacks as a lodestone to point our way forward into a new, vibrant future.  Unfortunately, it also continued a legacy by many associated with Asarco, including some of our local officials, as well as state and federal agencies to misrepresent, to obfuscate and to outright withhold facts and information from the public critical to their well-being, health and long-term safety. 

Despite pronouncements to the contrary, the felling of the stacks did not go well.  It was not a “clean drop” as predicted.  Continue reading

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If You Build It, They Will Come

The Tucson Padres, Triple-A baseball team being considered for acquisition in El Paso

In the movie “Field of Dreams,” Kevin Costner heard a voice (presumably from baseball’s legendary “Shoeless” Joe Jackson) whispering, “if you build it, he will come.”  Citizens of the border metropolis of El Paso are being asked to have similar faith as a local consortium of private business leaders have proposed a new baseball stadium in downtown El Paso.  They have convinced the City Council with only one session of public discussion that economic nirvana awaits just one baseball stadium and a triple-A franchise away.  Continue reading

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