Some things just don’t happen in the suburbs – or in rural areas. I’ll grant that maybe the statement could be reversed, but it’s someone else’s job to highlight the unique in those settings. Today I’ll feature some photographs of what I consider uniquely urban events or scenes, along with a couple of urban suggestions for the weekend.
I’ve enjoyed this artist who seems to have set up camp outside the Downtown Grind. His work is quite good and I’m hoping that sometime soon I can get a cup of coffee from Cynthia and sit outside on a pretty day and watch him work.
Doing work of a different sort, just across the street in front of Sky Box, I spotted these two ladies hooping. Urban Girl was with me and she was spellbound by their skills. Quite a few guys walking by were captivated, as well. I’m not sure it’s getting people in the doors, but they are certainly stopping traffic.
A couple of weeks ago the Beautification Mob settled in on the corner of Summit Hill and Central to make the area look more appealing. It’s, I suppose, a small-scale form of tactical urbanism. The area definitely looked better when they finished, but it also underscored the basic problem on that corner: this prominent corner in downtown needs to have a permanent structure with an urban design, not a re-purposed diner and a parking lot.
As a part of the Thursday night music series on Market Square, the Community Band performed a couple of weeks ago and they were great fun. It’s pretty cool to see older people with talent to play in a band given the opportunity. The sky shot was taken one midnight on my way home. Suburbs have moons, but not stars like that one.
Destination Imagination has come and gone for another year and, while i know opinions on the event vary, I have to say I absolutely love having the children and their families in town. They add energy and simple joy as they bound about the city streets. The families spend large amounts of money in downtown restaurants and stores and I get to hear several languages spoken every time I walk around the center city. To me, there really isn’t a downside to the event. I hope they come back for many years.
The caliber of buskers continues to improve around downtown. Though we continue to have exceptions, many are quite good. The young man pictured here is very, very good, and a nice addition. The alley? Well, I like alleys and this one, while not the best in the city looked interesting to me the day I took the photograph.
Weddings are big business downtown this time of year. The first photograph above is of a wedding in the World’s Fair Park and was taken from the Sunsphere. The second wedding party arrived on the square in full wedding attire from some other spot downtown. Maybe they got married in Krutch Park. There’s a wedding there this Saturday at 2:00, so you could drop by that one and see how it works, if you’re interested.
Things got interesting when the wedding party did a little mash-up with the March on Monsanto. Everyone seemed to like the merger of the two and smiles were seen all around. Only in a city – see what I’m talking about?
Flowers aren’t uniquely urban, of course, but I think they really pop in an urban environment. Beauty and the Streets, the Grit and the Glitter, I’m not sure how you want to characterize the juxtaposition of beauty on edginess, but I really like it.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a couple of urban suggestions for downtown this weekend. Of course there’s great music all about and the Farmers’ Market is a must-stop, but a couple of events are particularly street. First, I plan to attend “Princess Cut” tonight at the Square Room. It’s a Yellow Rose production and the topic is sex trafficking. Not a pretty topic, but an urban issue and the play focuses on one woman’s story as it played out in Knoxville, so it cuts close to home. It starts at 7:30, tickets are $10 and a panel discussion follows.
On Saturday, another uniquely urban topic will be addressed at Union Avenue Books at 4:00 PM when author Benjamin Ross reads from, discusses and signs his book, Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism. The book traces how the retreat from cities to more green spaces mutated into McMansions and strip malls. He advocates for smart growth, sustainabilty, light rail and affordable housing. It promises to be a lively discussion of urban issues and I plan to be there. I’d love to see you there, as well.