Before we delve into this work, please flash back to my first post in this sequence, which went out on July 24. Follow the link, take a look at that one, then return here …
… OK. Notice in the July 24 work that, despite the damage to the houses, the yards and street curbs seem fairly clear of debris? And in this work, the yards and curbs are NOT clear? Indeed, much less attention has been paid to the neighborhood in general. The photographic capture for the first work was made about 10 days after the tornado. The capture for this work was made ten days AFTER that, and there’s no comparison.
The first capture is of East Capital Avenue, which I’ve written about before. Huge sums of money, both private and public infrastructure dollars, have gone into revitalizing the neighborhood, not to mention the close attention paid by both private and public individuals vested in seeing that said revitalization continues. The second capture is Jackson Street, comprised of decidedly smaller homes that have seen little to zero revitalization efforts in recent years.
When volunteers came in to help property owners clean up, guess which neighborhood they went to first.
(Don’t interpret that sentence to imply that first responders were slow into the neighborhood as that would be an unconscionable mistake. First responders acted with great professionalism and rapidly came into the area as quickly as any other).
Please note, this is not hand wringing over unjust socio-economic realities; quite the contrary. The residents and property owners of East Capital are well organized, coordinated, and acquainted with each other’s needs. They’ve attracted a great deal of investment and attention to their neighborhood. They meet often and share resources in the best democratic tradition. Folks of the Jackson Street neighborhood may be great neighbors and terrific people; they may be banding together and helping each other through this crisis. But, like so many of us, up until the tornado they were pretty much laisse fare in the tradition of economic capitalism.
It’s not rich vs. poor; it’s organized and dynamic vs. unorganized and laid back.
Victims of either system are just as displaced, suffering just as much pain as the other. But it might make a difference how quickly life returns to normal, and just what shape that “normal” takes.
(In the interest of not misrepresenting the situation, let me add that there are a number of neighborhoods, like Jackson Street, in which clean-up efforts have moved more slowly; predominately side streets with limited through traffic. Conversely, there are a number of neighborhoods, like East Capital, in which clean-up moved more swiftly for the simple reason that they bordered high traffic boulevards where impediments had to be rapidly removed.)
NOTE: Fifteen of these works depicting Jefferson City, Missouri’s May 22 tornado damage have been compiled into an artbook, which may be viewed and purchased at Capital Arts in Jefferson City, or purchased on this website in either 10-inch paperback or signed 12-inch hardcover.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.