Private Shores: ownership (three of x)

05/27/2013 § Leave a comment

Where land meeds water in Montauk

On Montauk we went to a beautiful beach with rocks shaped smooth and translucent by crashing waves where peace meets action, peace is created by action. Here you can harvest wholeness and replenish your “capacity to build common community.” But only if you have access. This was a private beach, as so many are. We had access by virtue of being guests of the B&B where we stayed.

Pebbles and reflections

In her thoughts on the privatization of public space and what that has to do with community, and more broadly, with democracy, Dean of Harvard Law School Martha Minow shares her insights with beautiful examples of the free Hawaiian shores, particularly relevant on the US East Coast where the land meets the sea is so often private.

Osgood Park (ownership two of x)

02/04/2013 § Leave a comment

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On an early walk in Salem, I was overjoyed to find what I was sure would become my favorite sanctuary in the city. A short walk from my house, on the shore, a simple grass rectangle with mature trees, and of ideal Goldilocks proportions, being neither too large nor too small; this park was just right. Benches to sit on and listen to the gentle waves faced New England’s is pretty picturesque landscape. Here it was postcard perfect with a small island in the foreground and, across the water, a backdrop of stately Marblehead homes. The real selling point, though, was the swing set: four proper adult swings. I had just moved from Cambridge, where many close parks offered places to indulge in a bit of play. Here, I had been looking for a nearby place to swing, and while the larger and closer Forest River Park has a full playground and swimming facilities, at the time, it only had child safety swings.

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On leaving the park that day I fondly looked back. There was a sign, rather large, that I had somehow missed on my initial approach – there was the park’s name, various notices, and finally, the simple words: “members only.”

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I have since returned to the park, its open inviting lawn, and swung on the swings, but now it feels oddly subversive, and I wonder what I would say if anyone would ask me if I am in fact a member.

Salem: ownership (one of x)

11/23/2010 § Leave a comment

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This is my current backyard. In the above photos, I document my favorite misplaced object, the Boat, rather romantically gliding on a sea of golden autumn leaves.

I live at the ground level of a two-story, five unit, colonial house in Salem. The tenants’ quarters, our spaces, face the owner’s house on the other side of an increasingly communal backyard. There was once a fence separating the two properties, but it has been torn down to allow easy access for the owner’s pick-up trucks to the construction materials stored in the basement, below our unit. The removal also allows us, the tenants, off-street parking spaces on the other property. Since the fence has come down, many lines have been crossed.

It is not readily discernible where one property ends and the other begins; although fence remnants on the north side do give it away on close inspection. In many ways this is of no concern since both properties are owned by the same person. The intriguing aspect of tearing down the fence, the physical embodiment of the property line, is that it releases the imagination of how to use space no longer clearly delineated.  For one, it has increased access to users of each property by creating a through lot that opens onto the main highway on the east side and the local residential street on the west. Possibilities do not end with the increased circulation patterns of all of us, but the negation of the physical line has also transformed the once picket-fence enclosed and manicured yard into a fruitful breeding ground for objects of a certain dysfunctional quality.

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