the ‘little’ things build community

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I’ve watched several large-scale projects act as a catalyst for development in my hometown of Greensburg, PA. Large projects have stirred up the dust and generated interest, positive attitudes and hopeful morale among those who live here. I’m guessing it works for other cities too. These big moves tacitly signal that if an institution or corporation is willing to invest large dollars here, we can be optimistic to invest our small dollars here. Am I correct in my observation? Is there any truth to this assertion?

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It’s apparent from my Instagram feed that my family recently took a brief trip to Chicago (River North, Magnificant Mile and both baseball parks) as I posted a handful (or two) photos of architecture and food. While we walked the streets going about our day, an observation that I’ve made at home proved true to me in a large city as well. (OK, Chicago is an easy choice).

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The smaller gestures, the little features, the individual components and contributions of each building owner, store, restaurant, bar and tattoo parlor weave the real essence of a neighborhood, city and community. It’s more than the big heroic gestures we venerate; it’s the signs, awnings, storefronts, benches and landscaping that give a neighborhood character at the pedestrian level – you know, the people level.

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During our brief trip, my architectural investigations were limited and brief – basically a “walk-by” of a few well-known buildings, but no stops at museums or notable architectural destinations (OK, we did do the touristy John Hancock Tower). However, I’m not disappointed, in fact, it was quite the opposite. This caused me to notice and appreciate the “rest of the city.” I paid more attention to the individual but often anonymous buildings in between. That’s when we find the interesting, quirky and surprising.

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I highly recommend it. Depending on where you live, maybe there’s more architecture in your neighborhood than the few projects that win awards and appear on the pages. Thank the architects, designers and shop owners who contribute their talent to each square of this fabulous quilt we call home.

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Now go out and look for it, and post those photos on your Instagram feed. I suppose I had better do this again, but include posts from home and not vacation.

FYI, we did not go into most of these stores, restaurants and bars…sorry. My interest was superficial.

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the ‘little’ things build community

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