Wednesday, February 25, 2004

There is little more humbling than the attack of the common cold ...

Nothing. For the past few days I've been sniveling and sneezing and feeling put upon and miserable and -- so glad to be alone with no other human around to be brave for. Pure unadulterated crap! I don't do "ill" terribly well.

Came in from the theater on Sunday evening, kicked off my shoes and climbed into bed fully clothed and just pulled the covers over my head! Woke up on Monday morning with a scratchy throat, no voice, and little of anything else -- except a head that seemed to have swollen at least one-third -- with crud dripping from every opening... .

Spent the last two days listening to the rain beating down on the roof, grateful to have no place to have to be. Maybe the way to beat a cold is to simply give in to it and be glad you can do it without anyone to bear witness.

Today has been a combination of blustery rainstorms and occasional power outrages. But I'm feeling less growly and more Betty, and tomorrow there is lunch with Sharon at Salute on the shoreline with the panorama of San Francisco Bay to look out upon. There are warnings of high tides and huge waves today, with flooding expected up-country, but what we in the Bay Area experience as extreme weather is child's play to other parts of the country. I love it most of the time. Huge thunder clouds are rarely warnings of danger, but simply lend drama to the skys. There are rarely more than 3 days at a time of rough weather, and the sun generally manages to brighten things considerably between showers -- a few minutes at a time. Tomorrow will be an ideal day for lunch on the marina. With promises of more rain, the skies should be awesome!

I'm feeling good enough to attend a scheduled meeting (later today) of the Design Team for the redevelopment of the Macdonald Avenue corridor -- a mayoral appointment not connected with my job with the State. This is a project that I'm hoping will lead to the creation of an African American-oriented Arts & Entertainment District in the old abandoned downtown of Richmond. Been dreaming about that for several years, and -- after "seeding" the idea around town -- I'm now hearing it echo back from other voices. With any luck at all, it will be one of those ideas whose time has come and no one will know the genesis of it. That's the best outcome of good work. Learned a long time ago that the sign of good leadership is that when best executed, is virtually invisible.

The heart of this city has a number of lovely old brick buildings that were abandoned over 30 years ago when the redevelopment agency walked away from the "old town" parts and created a new shopping center some miles away on the far edge boundary adjacent to the city of Pinole. At this point, Pinole has created its own generic cookie-cutter shopping center to connect with that of Richmond, and much of the commercial life of this city has slowly oozed over the line. With cities largely dependent upon permitting fees, property and sales taxes to feed their general funds, the loss of sales taxes is a serious thing. It is all the more so in these days of state budget cuts. To have abandoned the central core of the city to crime and poverty is something I have a hard time comprehending.

No one seems to be willing to place a dollar figure on what it is costing to not redevelop those buildings; costs in lives lost, grafitti, loss of tax revenue, civic image and pride -- all casualties to the abandonment as a commercial center. The city would do well to give those buildings away to anyone with the financial wherewithall to rehabilitate them, and to thereby renew the life of the inner city for all to enjoy.

Have been working on that for some time now, and am beginning to be heard -- by everyone but the redevelopment agency, that is. Haven't figured out that piece yet, but I'm working on it... .