Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pollyanna Pounds the Pavement

Today I discharged my commitment to distribute campaign literature for a local candidate, Irv Acklesberg. Irv is a dynamite candidate - very smart, and that magical combination of both idealistic and effective. It is bleak and rainy out today and the neighborhood they assigned me is several miles from my home in a fairly grimy part of the district. None of the friends I invited to join me were available, so off I trudged, grudgingly, and not without anxiety. It did cross my mind that it would be way more cost effective for me to pay someone to do this for me.
But as is often the case, once you start a task you see the learning in it. I live in a diverse district, but at the very high end of it, so the immediate diversity runs from lower upper class to lower upper middle class, from A to B as the saying goes. I don't have occasion to walk around in neighborhoods with condemned properties, yards and empty lots piled with trash, in the shadows of rusted, decaying abandoned factories. But I did today. These are long blocks of row houses. Some are decently maintained; others are literally falling apart. The Martha Stewart/Pollyanna in me was busy taking in the architectural features and imagining how it would be fun to upgrade these working class homes. A whole bunch of them had their address numbers mounted in these cool plaques where the numbers were mounted cut mirror glass - kind of an Isaiah Zagar touch which was neat. Clearly a local artist has found a niche.
A few month ago my neighbor Cris and I worked the MainLine district for a congressional race and were assigned estates. I don't know what qualifies a house as upper class, but a gate and a long driveway which leads to a property would seem to qualify. The area was almost wholly depopulated of anyone except groundskeepers, painters, and the occasional maid who answered the door. The little neighborhood I was in today had more people in it, with porches where neighbors can actually see each other, which to me is a wonderful neighborhood feature.
What struck me is that while the people from the high rent districts are the ones ponying up in the build-up to the presidential primaries , at $2500 a piece, they still can each only vote once. The votes of the people who live in the homes I visited today count just as much as those from the grand estates. You can see I was feeling patriotic.
A highlight of this leafleting expedition was stopping by the corner barber shop. Just the idea of a corner barber shop is wonderful, but the sign was the best: Closed on May 8th for Kayesha's Graduation! I stopped and talked with the barber about Irv, but also about Kayesha. Kayesha is getting her BA and heading on to Law School. "Corporate Law", her dad emphasized. Lots of things are screwed up in this world, but there are things to celebrate, and Kayesha, daughter of the neighborhood barber becoming a corporate lawyer, is one of them.

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