Friday, December 24, 2010
Two Things Thursday
So, on the week of Christmas, our T3 starts with an interesting convo I had during a recent church dinner.
We're blessed to have Doris Tallman, the Food Service Director at Westran School District, as a long-time pillar of our assembly. Periodically, I pick her brain on the food industry and she passes on anecdotes on the adventures of filling hundreds of bellies at one sitting. Doris takes great pride (as well she should) in her department's performance, both in efficiency and nutrition. She made the following comment and it struck me so, I asked her if I could quote it:
"Not every child can play an instrument or football or sing in the choir, but they can all eat."
Her point? Food is the only place where every child is equal. What an absolute. It's where we all sit down, regardless of quality or character and do something the exact same way... and get the same basic result. It brought to mind an NPR piece I heard on Food Deserts. It's a concept that's been around for years regarding the lack of healthy food in rural or low income urban areas. The idea is that the small mom & pop groceries have faded away and the big box food retailers have followed the suburban migration. This leaves a particular population group with no convenient access to quality food since many do not have personal vehicles or public transportation to locations that would stock it. Sure, there are gas stations and fast food, but these generally don't provide fresh, healthy, low-calorie food. This then snowballs into the urban sprawl, obesity and diabetic debate.
On the same urban desert theme, I've been past Northwest Plaza in St. Louis several times over the past few months. This is an abandoned mall that in its hey-day was once a premier shopping destination complete with Famous Barr (and its distinctive white rotunda), Dillard's, Penney's, etc. When it opened in 1963, it was reportedly the world's largest mall. It's now what's called a dead mall, meaning the anchor stores are gone and the smaller retailers have no access to the traffic once generated. Soon, these stores also close and the place goes vacant. Now, this is fascinating to me, mainly because I'm somewhat of an urbex. These vast buildings are just laying out there in the sun, with nothing happening besides decay and vandalism. Eventually, they become blighted and the owner razes the place and it goes greyfield.
One success story of a resurrected dead mall is Parkade Center in Columbia, MO. The management reoriented themselves from a retail focus to a service and business park. Instead of filling the place with knock-offs or novelty stores, it became an office park with everything from ACORN to USDA. Moberly Area Community College recently became one of the largest tenants, locating their Columbia campus on site.
And that's your T3, with enough links to keep you reading thru the weekend...!