Is it the Onion? News and Tribune? NA Confidential? Nah, it’s just a Duggins-ism, ‘cuz “New Albany approves bid to transform alley into ‘more of a place.'”

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It’s getting creepy surreal, for real. 

Make no mistake: We’re honored to have been the source of this idea (June of 2915, below), along with the inimitable David Thrasher, and even if neither of us will be getting a plaque.

Thrasher deserves all the credit, eh?

There’s just one lingering question. Given the impact of a typical Ohio Valley summer’s night, is covering those dumpsters going to be enough?

Wait — we already asked this question, a year and a half ago. We like being prescient, especially when they don’t know what the word means.

June 12, 2015
Seattle alleys, New Albany street pianos and the overdue purging of bureaucrats.

Photo credit: Hannegan Roseberry at Fb

I generally advocate thinking outside our self-imposed civic boxes, because New Albany has far too many of them, stacked somewhere out in the garage, creased and dusty, and filled with hoary rationales for non-activity that we’ve forgotten even exist.

We also have many suitable alleys, as outlined in is adaptive reuse saga from Seattle.

Seattle’s Future Alleys Look Like Paradise, by John Metcalfe (City Lab)

When you peer into a downtown Seattle alley, you might see rats and people sleeping in dumpsters. That could change, however, as the city plans to turn some of these airless holes into charming, plant-filled utopias.

Against all odds, New Albany has a thriving restaurant and bar culture to consider, and consequently, while excitedly reading about alley renovations in Seattle — and recalling the many “hidden” infrastructure places we possess in addition to these — one sensation kept coming back to me.

Namely, the smell of dumpsters behind restaurants in a red-hot, humid Indiana summer. However, using spaces, making places … I support the idea, and the possibilities are endless. In fact, apart from alleyways, we could do so much better here, and the first step simply must be liberating ourselves from thinking that the usual suspects and their same “officially” accredited agencies, commissions and political entities possess a monopoly on creativity.

They don’t, and all too often they stifle grassroots artistic expression, placemaking and neighborhood revitalization.

As Hannegan Roseberry’s experience with our gatekeepers at the Board of Works earlier this week illustrates, the cultural asphyxiation starts at the very top. Hannegan had an idea, and the bored’s political appointees could barely stifle their yawns while flashing the usual reply: “It’s not an option.”

 … Now, you may be wondering what this surely controversial project must be, considering the absolute breakdown of communication and complete avoidance it inspired: A street piano, painted brightly by teenage artists, sitting out on the street for all passersby to enjoy and experience. I know, contain your gasps of horror; the audacity of this citizen, to think she could so arrogantly prep a whimsical and creative project such as this and terrorize the streets of New Albany.

In all seriousness, my goal is to shed light on a far more concerning challenge than the fun and frivolity of a street piano: The piano is really beside the point.

New Albany must make government more accessible. It is absolutely inexcusable that a citizen with an idea and a passion for her community could be so absolutely and completely led in circles, shut out and shut down.

Tuesday mornings, 10 a.m. It’s in need of a dose of glasnost.

Look it up, Warren.

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