Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Narrative Spaces, Political and Ethnic Implications of a Built Environment

A little light reading, this morning…lol.
I think about Mason, and the various Neighborhoods.
Old Barrio, New Barrio(I didn’t invent these terms, or their Connotations 1)…the “Historical District”(from the Square, to the Fort)…what I think of as the Rich Hill…and, way out East, where the Feedlot is, what I think of as a sort of Redneck Barrio,lol…(Confederate Flags).
There’s no hard and fast  exclusivity…it’s difficult to generalize…there’s plenty of diversity in all these Neighborhoods…( except for the Rich Hill; I can think of no Po Folks, up there)
Diversity based on Ethnicity/Race, as well as Wealth(or it’s Lack).
This town is steeped in History…although, I glean that it’s only thought about in a rather anodyne, superficial way; as in the general habit of ignoring the Hoodoo War of the Civil War Era, that still festers, under the surface.
Since I’ve been in the (“new”) Barrio….what Officialdom refers to as “The North Side”…I’ve sort of been thinking about these things; but never in a cogent way…until I read this paper, today.
We have 2 bridges over the creek, to get to Town…and an out of the way low water crossing…and an old, condemned bridge, that they have failed to replace, despite having the Funding all lined up, as of several years ago. If one wants to travel North...or get easily from the Barrio to the part of town along the Brady Highway, one must go to the Square. I don’t know if such Channeling is intentional(there’s little evidence of that level of Intelligence), but it does have an effect. Too, the lack of that bridge further isolates the Old Barrio, especially disconnecting it from the New Barrio…and making the Old Barrio, now, effectively, at a Dead End…that area is, for all intents and purposes, a Collonia 2. Shitty Sewer System, shitty  Water Lines, shitty roads, shitty drainage….forgotten. It’s also where the poorest residents live…including the Immigrants, both legal, and illegal. 2 cops can cordon off that neighborhood.(it takes 4 to  ineffectively block egress from the New Barrio….many more for the other, more white neighborhoods).
Again, I don’t know if it’s intentional…but there it is.
 Even unintentional channeling and barricading(dare I call it “Ghetto-ization”,lol 3) has an effect, even if it’s largely unconscious.
Now…how to fix this?
Build the Bridge…the “planned” new one, connecting the   Pontotoc Street to that part of Spring Street that goes from the Creek, to Dairy Queen…like the Minutes from the Council, several years ago, indicated was in the works(including Grants, etc)…but, for some unknown reason, was stopped.
With the recent Economic Decline, I have noticed a lot more folks walking…mostly to the one Grocery Store, away on the South end of Town. Aside from the Square, there are no sidewalks to speak of….and only that green bus thing for “public transportation”.
I have considered, for this reason, opening a “Bodega”, here in the “New Barrio”…but have not…due to my Disability, and lack of Funds… the State Regulatory Labyrinth…as well as the Byzantine and Unwelcoming City Government. (4)
The recent talk of sidewalks…building new, and rejuvenating/modernizing old…has been specifically focused on the Square…not on where they are needed by Po Folks.(the Poor don’t shop on the Square)(5)
Similarly, I have considered a Taxi/Rickshaw/Mule-Cart Service…specifically for Po Folks to get from their far-flung homes, to the one, single store.
Fuel Cost negates the Taxi Idea…and I suspect that there’s Imperial Entanglements to consider(Permits/Insurance/Licenses) ….perhaps if I had a place for a Mule…
These are things clattering around in my mind…I can’t help but Observe…
“About 15.9% of families and 18.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.9% of those under age 18 and 19.7% of those age 65 or over.”(from Wiki)
Almost a Fifth of the Population are below the Federal Poverty Line….interestingly, my little family is not (!?), which should be a good indicator of the (dis-)Utility of FPL(Ha! 6)…
In other words, the Poor are much more numerous in Mason, than the Official Numbers indicate.

1  I use this word as I’ve heard it used…meaning “Neighborhood”…stripped of any negative Connotations….where one can hear Conjunto, and smell Barbacoa, on any given Sunday.

2  I use this in it’s broadest sense…
4 the City, likely unconsciously, maintains an adversarial  hostility to it’s poorer patrons…especially regarding the myriad permits and zoning ordinances. The Zoning, specifically, appears to have been lifted, entirely, from Austin, or somewhere…and has little real applicability to Mason. This is a whole other subject, of course…but, one example: Electrical Work. Folks I know(Po Folks) cannot afford an Electrician, due, in part to City Requirements for contractors…and cannot afford the Code Requirements…which, according to electrician friends, are  overkill, and needlessly expensive. These requirements are sold as necessary for Safety. However, the actual effect, is that Po Folks learn to live with the ancient wiring and screw in fuses(1950’s),  that are already extant…and utilize “power strips” and extension cords for any needed modifications…the Inspectors are seen as Intrusive, and Nit Picking, and Not On Our Side. This is hardly in the service of “Safety”.

5 Admittedly, the sidewalks around the Square are piss-poor; especially if you’re disabled/wheelchair-bound…but this is of concern to tourism, tourist-related businesses. and to those residents who can afford to patronize those businesses.
6 This is why the various Agencies,(Foodstamps, Medicaid, etc) now use things like “130% of FPL” as criteria for Eligibility…even the Government realizes the disutility of those numbers.

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