Month: January 2016

Japanese Garden, Missouri Botanical Garden

The Japanese Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden is one of my favorite places in St. Louis. Whenever I visit, I always come here, usually with my mom, and enjoy the serenity and beauty of this incredibly peaceful place. The 14-acre site within the larger garden complex was opened in 1977 and remains one of the most visited places in St. Louis, and for great reason. Visit the garden if you come to St. Louis. You will not be disappointed.

(Click on each photo to see a larger picture on as separate picture page.)

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The house on Stout Street

Relatives of mine lived on Stout Street, in northwest Detroit. It was once a middle-class neighborhood for working-class families. Now it has gone to hell. I have profiled the decay on this block before. I wanted to share how it looks with this short video. It still makes me want to cry every time I see it, because every house that used to be here is a story of lives come and now gone.

The footage was taken in September 2015.

 

Lafayette Square, architectural gem of the Midwest

(Click on each photograph to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

Lafayette Square is a historic upper-class neighborhood in south central St. Louis. Today, it is a state historic district, off Chouteau, Jefferson, and Lafayette Avenue. The area surrounds Lafayette Park, the oldest public park west of the Mississippi River. Despite the area being ravaged by a tornado in 1896 and being cut off from other neighborhoods by Interstate 44, many of the historic Second Empire style French row houses and Romanesque mansions surrounding the park remain in superb condition.

Today, cities are trying to recreate this style of development, of tightly built row homes surrounding public spaces. But no one builds homes like this anymore, not with brick and sandstone at least.

There are tours offered twice a year of the homes through a community organization, but anyone can wander the streets surrounding the park and enjoy the beauty of a superbly built community, where money built dwellings that continue to stand the test of time.

For this series I used my Fuji X-Pro1 and my old Leica 24mm Elmar lens–my favorite lens of all. I love the colors and crispness.

 

New Year’s Day at Meissner Nordic Trails

On New Year’s Day, I finally was able to enjoy the all-volunteer-run Meissner Nordic trails near Bend. This is a wonderful place, with miles of trails for skate and single track skiers. Be sure to donate to the volunteers if you visit. And bring your sunscreen and lip protection (my lips were cooked like burnt toast!).

Snowfall on Concordia

I was recently in St. Louis, Missouri, and was blessed by a lovely snowfall that created opportunities for winter images, when the world around you gets quiet and you gaze and smile like a kid catching snowflakes for the first time. I had my Fuji X-Pro1 camera, with a Leica 24mm Elmar lens. This lens always delivers images that only can be found with Leica. Luckily, I was close to Concordia Seminary. I think it is one of the most beautiful campuses in North America.

(Click on each photograph to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

Lafayette Park and Fox Park, endurance and decay

St. Louis’ iconic architecture defines the city’s legacy as a once wealthy and prosperous community, before its decline in the post-World War II years. Freeways smashed through historic neighborhoods, like Fox Park and Lafayette Park,. Today, they provide enduring examples of building styles in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

I spent a morning in Lafayette Park and the Fox and McKinney park neighborhoods. There were signs of decay, reminiscent of Detroit, but no where near that scale of destruction. For me, St. Louis is a place with tightly packed homes on modest lots, built out of brick, and with care and craftsmanship. Even the crumbling apartments retain a quiet grace.

(Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

Winter morning in Lafayette Park

Paris? Toulouse? Perhaps Lyon? No, not really, but the city that is home to this park was profoundly influenced by its original French-American inhabitants, who named their town after their beloved king, calling it St. Louis.

Lafayette Park, also known as Lafayette Square, is the oldest public park in the United States west of the Mississippi River. It was dedicated in 1851, 10 years before the Civil War. It is found on St. Louis’ south central side. It remains a treasure for anyone who appreciates urban design and American architectural history. The former upscale neighborhood surrounding the park has been well-preserved, including the elegant French row houses and mansions. This is where the 1 percent called home in the city’s heyday.

I visited in early January and found the public space well maintained and used by dog walkers. If you visit St. Louis, visit this park and spend a few hours wandering the neighborhood.

(Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

A snowy day in Portland as the new year begins

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What a glorious day. When I looked out my window I was greeted with a lovely dusting of snow outside my home and all around the neighborhood. I was not expecting this, and because I had no plans to drive today, it was a blessing.

I grabbed my point and shoot Canon and did a run through the Westmoreland and Eastmoreland neighborhoods, taking a detour to the campus of my old alma mater, Reed College. The campus projects that regal and expensive air of high-priced academia when covered in snow, like its sister private schools across the country. Regardless of the very high cost to attend Reed, I still think it looks great dusted in snow.  My Sellwood neighborhood and Westmoreland Park also looked stunning. The park conjured an image of a Japanese woodcut painting of winter in Japan.

I hope others are enjoying snow as much I have today. Happy new year.

Warm Springs on a winter’s day

(Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

I just passed through the Warms Springs Indian Reservation, which lies in northwest Oregon, on the east side of the Cascade range. It is managed by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. The bands that claimed ancestry in the region include the Paiutes, Warms Springs, and Wascoes.

The reservation was created by treaty in 1855, which ceded lands to the United States in exchange for rights and services. Those rights include fishing rights for salmon that remain today.

I will go back in the spring, when the weather is warmer. There is a lot I would like to see.

Today, the reservation has made a lot of news because of a tribal vote to allow cannabis cultivation. During the same election in December, there was a measure to remove lifetime members from the tribal council. The tribe reported this update in November that the petition needs to be submitted and approved for further review by the regional office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

This measure to change the tribal constitution likely stemmed from news that broke earlier in 2015 that the tribes overspent $100 million over the last 10 years, which put at risk  pensions and distributions from a tribal trust, and also impacted essential services.

The tribes’ former treasurer, Jake Suppah, was put on leave after identifying the mismanagement. These findings and the treatment of Suppah led to the tribes contacting the office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of the Interior to investigate tribal finances in March 2015. Since that time, the fiscal mismanagement, the connection between the reporting of the mismanagement and the petition last month to amend the constitution, and the impacts of these findings have not been widely covered in Oregon. I still cannot find out how this petition process turned out, yet.

As the Bend Bulletin in March quoted council member Carlos Smith, also general manager of Kah-Nee-Ta Resort & Spa: “Our tribe was one of the richest tribes in the ’80s and now we’re broke. That’s why we brought Jake back, to figure out, ‘Why are we broke? What is this issue?’”

I am hoping the residents of Warm Springs have found answers to their questions about what went wrong. There are many reasons for silence in Indian country, but I think many on the reservation think otherwise with this matter.