Sunday, June 1, 2008

Fink Shui

     "My yard is my yard," states Gail Booker, to whom the title "Queen of the neighborhood" was graciously bestowed upon her by her cohorts across the alley. Not so much that she "reins" over Alberta street, but that she has lived in the same home for 37 years. That is what Alberta street is. Home. A place that one wants to keep until one dies. Gail is still very attached to the area despite the changes that she has both experienced and seen. She knows that this is a solid place to be. A  place that one can root themselves to. A foundation. 
     Prior to 1996 Gail taught ceramics.Her business was located in the block where the Guardino Gallery now resides. She kept her doors locked. Students and visitors would knock to gain access during business hours. During one of her classes two young men gained access. Using a fire extinguisher, they emptied its contents and demanded the cash box. Gail remembers what a mess it was to clean up. She laughs since she hadn't collected any monies. The cash box was empty. 
     Gone are the gun shots. Only the bullet hole remains. As does the revelry that comes with after hours. A drunk is a drunk though she feels that with more venues for drinking the ratio is higher. Gone to is the ability to find a restaurant that has "home cooking"; let alone the ability to navigate down the busy sidewalks to try and find one. Pedestrian right of way has been lost to the eateries sidewalk tables and shops displaying their wares outside. Customers lounge about with their dogs. Feet and legs are everywhere. Now when a pie is desired, Gail picks up a Marie Callendars and bakes it in the oven at home. 
     Pedestrians aren't the only ones feeling the congestion. Driving down Alberta Street has become a bit of a nuisance. Tri-Met has incorporated the bus stops with the shoulder of the roadway diminishing the separation of automobile and sidewalk. Bicyclist are abundant. There is no clear path for the cyclist. On a busy weekend–or any for that matter–the two lane roadway becomes a maze of pedestrians, dogs, bikes and autos. All vying for their portion of the path. Gail is afraid that someone is going to be hit and hurt. A lot of the bicyclist she sees are without proper visibility devices–reflectors, headlamps. The riders should be licensed.  She avoids Alberta Street proper. 
     Her involvement with Alberta Street is non–stop. Currently she is the Chair on the Green Team. The group is working on a project to get a canvas bag to each of the homes that make up the neighborhood. 

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