Greenhouse on Grant Street

Watch a building contractor and a librarian/writer, Yuppie scum who should know better, rescue an abandoned urban greenhouse in Buffalo, NY and launch an organic herb business

Sunday, September 19, 2004

More clean-up

Today we addressed cosmetic issues. As long as the greenhouse has to be boarded up, it doesn't have to be ugly. Vince got a cheap gallon of blue-tinted wash to cover the "oriented strandboard," as that nasty waferboard stuff is called in the trade. He thought he'd get two coats, but it absorbed so fast that it didn't cover all the way once. The plan is to get an undercoat on the boards and then invite the neighborhood kids to a painting party, in which we add flowers and the names of the artists. The theory is to instill a small sense of ownership, which we hope will cut down on tagging and other forms of vandalism.

For my part, I dug up violets from our front and back yards at home and transplanted them into the tree wells under the linden trees. Judith warned me that the soil needed amending (more organic material) and leveling, or the rainfall will just run off and the violets won't make it. I was not convinced, as these very violets were aggressively crowding out everything in their path at home and our soil is not especially good.

I continue to sweep up broken glass from the sidewalk, tree wells, and neighbor's yard. After the greenhouse was abandoned, it attracted a lot of thrown rocks, and whoever swept up the shards was not very thorough. This is the "broken window" theory in action. Leave one window broken and it signals to the world that that no one cares about a place, and further vandalism and social breakdown occurs. I do not want one child getting hurt on broken glass on or from my property.

Vince reports that two weeks ago he hosed down the first vomit from in front of the greenhouse.

Nevertheless, we are both annoyed by the opinion, usually voiced by our white middle class peers, that Grant Street is getting worse. Objectively, it has more people than ever buying houses as owner-occupants, joining the neighborhood association, and opening small businesses. Our theory? People may not be consciously racist but their unconscious yardsticks are. More white faces = good. More brown faces = bad. It's a stupid, false equation and we should all know better by now.


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