Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Day 16: A view on a view

I wish when I took my walk tonight I'd not left my phone behind because I'd be better able to illustrate my post.  With a picture, I'd not have the burden of describing to you the vista my eyes took in when I walked to Fort Sumner Park off North Street in the East End of Portland.

I can tell you that I walked to the very edge of the park.  I stood looking to the west and from as far as I could see to the North and as far as I could see to the South lay the city I call home.  I will tell you how I heard the jingle of a dog's tags as his owner walked him on Sheridan Street below.  How I pulled off the elastic that held my pony tail so that the wind that caressed my cheeks could lift my hair.

My eyes took in a view that included the lights of a tugboat in the harbor and the steeple of the Church of the Immaculate Conception on Cumberland Avenue.  I could see the tall buildings that surround Monument Square and the lights of the older buildings on the West End.  I could see the flashing lights of the air port, the dark spot that is Deering Oaks Park and the steady ribbon of rush hour car headlights as they zoomed along 295.

From this vantage point I could see Back Bay Tower, Kennedy Park and all the new luxury homes popping up around the city.  I could see the Forest Avenue Hannaford and the light of the Glickman Library on the University of Southern Maine Campus where I had spent many hours studying not so long ago.

I saw the city lights reflected in the waters of Back Cove and smiled at the line of red taillights that I knew to be traffic waiting to turn at the light on Vannah Avenue. If it were daylight and clear I'd see the White Mountains, but tonight, in the dark,  I had to take for granted that they stood there still some distance beyond the glow of the City of Westbrook and the blinking light on the smoke stack of Sappi Paper

I thought of all of the people who were beneath my gaze at this moment.  Thousands, coming to and from work, preparing dinner, sitting down to meals, tending to sick loved ones, worrying about the future, hating their neighbors, loving their children, crying over lost loves, fearing the next knock on the door, wondering if anyone cares...

And I thought how right now, tonight any one of those people would be free to come here.  To stand and take in this wonderful view, this spectacle that was, for me tonight, reminding me of just how fragile and connected we all really are.  Anyone, regardless of who they are could stand on this spot and experience this...

But that may change. Right next to the spot I was standing taking in this panorama of humanity, is where a developer wants to build luxury condominiums.  Where, if they should by built, six stories high, you will be able to take in this same wonderful view but only if you can pay the price of $350,000 - $500,000 dollars?  I'm not sure on the cost other than it is more than I or many can afford.

A view might seem a small thing to some, and one friend even told me recently that views don't matter.  But to me, to many of us, it does matter.  This park and its view are a part of our community, and it is a place where anyone in that community can come an enjoy this wonderful vista.  If those condominiums are built they will turn that view into something exclusive to the people who can afford to pay for it.  It says to a part of our community, "You don't matter. You are no longer worthy of having this."

At a time when community is something we so desperately need, we should be looking twice, three or a hundred times at anything can take away from that.

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