Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ramble 35: Mallards as Metaphor...Or, Life's Paradoxes

Marge left town for several months. And, she's back. Then, as a creature of habit who enjoys her own habitat, Marge did the rounds to see what had gone on around town during her absence.

While visiting colleagues at Oakland’s 5th Avenue Marina, Marge heard "live-aboards" – the hearty folks who live on sailboats - refer to mallard drakes as “rapists”. Now, before tut-tutting that a bunch of know-nothing-no-money-no-social-power folks who can’t –or won’t - pay rent or mortgage for a “real” place are trivializing a serious crime, let Marge explain.

Like all hierarchical systems, duck communities have a pecking order with - no surprise – males in the top spots. Even to a non-avian observer, mallard drakes appear to take their top-spot privileges seriously - and insist on underlings taking it even more seriously than they do. So, for example, females and young males must walk or paddle one-drake-length behind the big duck tail; an underling must submit absolutely to harassment dished out by higher ups. Underlings flouting the hierarchy are terrorized back into line, either by a single male acting alone…or by a gang of males acting with one mind -- the mafia equivalent of the Anas platyrhynchos [wild duck] realm.

Enforcing mallard privilege is particularly important during the spring when drakes are burdened with the responsibility of perpetuating their kind. Any female, including one already nesting or caring for young, is up for grabs. Being airborne is no guarantee of safety since it is not uncommon for four or five drakes to accost hens in aerial maneuvers that give new meaning to “sky jacking”.   

Marge has  witnessed the mallard mafia attempt aerial copulation but, so far, she has not seen even the most robust coalition of this willing succeed at aerial invasion. Anyway, males don’t need acrobatic skill for females in flight eventually tire. Upon landing, the female is forced into a cluster-fuck of feather-flying brutality…with loud quacks of male delight encouraging other males to join in, too. 

Afterwards, the female staggers momentarily then fluffs her feathers, holds her beaks high…and re-joins the flock – as if nothing untoward just happened.
Marge was outraged when first introduced to mallard duck lore and facts on the ground. Why do females not fight back, protest, do something about their mistreatment?
It didn't take long for Marge to see that she was merely flailing at the surface of deep, dark life and times.

Picture this: a mallard female sits on a clutch of eight eggs – and Marge means sit: a mallard hen is a good girl who follows duck directive and takes seriously the job of nurturing the next generation. She never complains, neither of injustice and unfairness nor of having no mate to relieve her vigil. She frets every time she leaves the nest for food and water as it means leaving her precious eggs exposed to predators … rats… gulls… night herons… falcons…even snakes – the possibilities for mayhem make her feathers flutter.
The one good thing about sitting on a clutch is that she’s out of the males’ firing line – if they can’t see her they can’t pick on her….

After a 30-day gestation, all eight eggs hatch. She’s as proud as any new mother. Her progeny are special… beautiful…and talented: they take to the water almost immediately… although they cannot fly for another 60 days. She can’t wait to show them off to the duck community….
She waddles down the dock with eight squeakers following. Suddenly, the gulls overhead spot the possibilities…and dive in for a tasty morsel. The alert mother quacks a warning and the eight apples-of-her-eye scurry under her wings in time to avert a tragedy. Then a mallard drake spots her…. Despite her squawks warning him of the dangers to the gene pool he forces her to copulate; the little ones run around squeaking, crying, and looking for safety.
The ruckus alerts other ducks and drakes and they crowd around and comment…or get in on the attack.
The gulls see an advantage and swoop down….
When the gangbang is over, the mother staggers and gathers her squawking young from around the dock and in the water; some are missing. She finds five – and is relieved that the survivors, while clearly rattled, are alive.
Repeat this scenario several times a day for three days.
Then, find the mother protecting one duckling. But one is better than none and, despite ongoing harassment, it’s easier to protect just one. If the lone survivor seems disoriented by the trials and tribulations of his life so far, he is alive and … alright. A mother can’t ask for more than that…can she?
One mother, one duckling - two survivors!
[BTW, for all you birders out there:
"According to serious 'birders' "mallards frequently interbreed with their closest relatives in the genus Anas and with species more distantly related (e.g., the northern pintail) leading to various hybrids that may be fully fertile. This is quite unusual among different species and may be as a result of the mallard evolving  very rapidly and recently (during the Late Pleistocene). Mallards and their domesticated conspecifics are also fully interfertile."]
This is why this female does not look exactly like your picture perfect mallard hen. She's a product of "mallard evolution" and "interfertility". Gangbanging by any other name....
Photo: Susan Galleymore (2014)
As a non-feathered female brought up on bits and pieces of feminism (particularly the egosyntonic bits) Marge is... outraged ... upset... hurt ... that female mallards must live in an environment that offers no recourse to courts, legal system, or sisters'/feathered friends’ support.
Doesn't it do something to a person when confronted with such injustice?

For example, Marge saw hens seek protection from drakes by inserting themselves between the legs of empathetic 5th Avenue Marina live-aboards. These humane humans responded by kicking away the aggressive drakes. 

Truthfully, Marge was horrified - and puzzled - at the pleasure she took from this view of payback. It was egodystonic and that made Marge very ...uncomfortable ... but she was also... elated.

All this … primitive behavior… violence… lack of justice… enrages Marge - even more so because of her conflicted feelings about it all.  
If lower order ducks refuse to see the value of “the other” within their own genus, how, oh how, can we expect higher order people to treat one another any better?
How will the planet and its people, creatures, and plants survive?
Oh, dear, oh dear, oh dear.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ramble 34: Nostalgia

Sunday, April 6th...and Marge could not get off the island today. Normally, as you know, Marge would rather be boiled in oil than drive her vehicle. But, sometimes, one must drive and, today was one of those days.
It was the kind of day that reminded Marge why she promotes alternative transportation.
For, both Webster Tube - driving off the island - and Park Street bridge were jammed packed with traffic. The Tube was worse - likely  because it is closer to the antiques show that may have brought the traffic.
At any rate, having spent some small part of the day moseying around on foot, when Marge got into her vehicle to do the do and get off the island, there was little escape without spending hot and sweaty time lined up with hundreds of other hot, sweaty, and annoyed drivers.
Marge did try a few traffic work-arounds. One of them brought her to Target; the other work-around brought her to what was once Chipman on Clement near the old Del Monte building.
Then Marge waxed nostalgic.
Then she worried.
Here's a sample of her interior monologue. 
"We're giving away the store; we'll only recognize what we've lost once it is gone, gone, gone. Then we'll wonder why our kids have so little spiritual connectedness to the land, the environment, and the communities in which they grew up. How can young people, who tend to be idealistic to the core, relate to acres of concrete? Well, they can if they must...and they must if that is all that surrounds them. So, why must they?"

Do you remember what the island was like before Target? Scroll through this blog for earlier posts and pix on Target. Here are 3 pix of what will soon be gone... and replaced by "development".

Now let's look at what was once Chipman. This will be a Lennar Corporation development - first pic has some contact info in case you want to express something other than glee at Lennar Corp. running off with profits they make in our city. (Remember how City Councilmembers and City Manager urged residents to "shop local" over holidays? They did not mention that City-encouraged corporations given the go-ahead to set up shop in out city will pull out any and all profits they make in our city and leave us just the city's portion of the sales tax - that amounts to less than one percent (1%) of our "spend".)

Orient yourself: standing with your back to Clement Street looking towards downtown Oakland with Del Monte building on left. (former) Chipman to the right.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ramble 33: Where the sidewalks end...

Sunday: a "day of rest" so, in Ramble 33, Marge rests from recent "kvetch-style" Rambles and, instead, celebrates little known Alameda parks.

During an early spring Ramble along our island's eastern shoreline Marge and Sergei' discovered two little known mini parks. Close inspection of the pix show that, yes, these parks along the eastern shoreline are small, almost hidden and most lovely. .

This one, off East Shore Drive, threads between two houses.
Here, Sergei takes the pic looking west / north west toward the park's entrance.

Perhaps "park" is too firm a definition for this spot is more like where a sidewalk ends .
But, look!
How beautiful and peaceful.
Sergei aims his camera toward Oakland.

Looking west toward Harbor Bay with Mt. Trashmore on the horizon.
Mt. Trashmore, the highest point in Alameda, was once a municipal garbage dump. (Read more about Mt. Trashmore.) Now covered with grass it makes a lovely walk along the shoreline after passing over the Harbor Bay bridge and heading south rather than west (which wends along the Harbor Bay shoreline.)
Marge loves seaweed (as she describes in Ramble 26: The Twelve Faces of Seaweed).
This seaweed is not really "sea" weed but more like "shore" weed.
Marge is sure there is someone 'out there' who could name and describe this sea-/shore-weed.
Meanwhile, Marge believes that, with a little modification, this photo could offer a template for a great texture that could be used for...well, screened onto a pot or vase or something similar.

Another (more park-y) park in the same area.

This is an actual park, though small. It has a name but, sorry, right now Marge does not have that name; she will find it and edit this post when she does.

How does Marge know this is an actual park?
Well, it has city signs: one states, "dogs must be kept on leash"...another presents park hours..yet another warns about loitering after hours....
Shown to the right, Marge looks down Central Avenue! Yes, this is where Central Ave, after running all the way along the ...center... of our island, ends. The cross street is East Shore Drive.

Then, turn around, and...voila!
A tree-lined walkway...with a bench that invites a weary traveler...

along the way to the bench this lovely tree...

...on arriving at the bench...

there is a memorial...

Brandon Sorensen, 13 years old and a student at Lincoln Middle School, was riding his bicycle on May 16, 2011.
A car hit him on Everett Street at Santa Clara Avenue. He died on his way to the hospital.

Looking west
...a closer view of the home situated along the shoreline looking, again, toward Mt. Trashmore.

While it is sad to leave this lovely, quiet spot Marge and Sergei's exit, however, offers another surprise: 
a toucan sculpture in the yard on the corner and...
the yard across the street from the park entrance displays colorful strelitzia.

All in all, a wonderful stroll into two of Alameda's hidden gem parks.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Ramble 32: Neptune, rise up from your watery realm...

As already pointed out in earlier Rambles, Marge is a busybody...a-fingers-in-many-pies kinda gal....and an admirer of the natural environment. As such, Marge (and Sergei) pays close attention to the legal dispute between our City and East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD). For, if EBRPD loses, so do you... and Marge... and Sergei... and all of us who admire, feel at home in, and want to preserve what's left of our disappearing natural environment.
Essentially, on the West End's Crab Cove section of Crown Beach, the city rezoned to residential a segment of the federal administration land that fronts the easement known as McKay Avenue, off Central Ave near Webster Ave.( See a  map of the spot and more photographs and  documents.)
McKay is a minimally maintained, cul-de-sac easement - not a City maintained street - and the only access point for vehicles to EBRPD's Crab Cove and the Visitor Center. This popular center caters to children and families and educates about marine and land environments and critters, the park lawn is a popular spot for kid, teen, and adult soccer enthusiasts, the BBQ areas are full in the summer, the beach is wonderful for young 'uns, and the shoreline walkways well used. All this activity means EBRPD's parking lot  (about 40 to  50 slots for $$s during summer weekends, free during winter) and McKay easement itself is already full to overflowing with vehicles.
EBRPD wanted - still wants - to purchase the land to expand the park to all members of the Bay Area who hike, swim, BBQ, play, and like to hang out and relax in our public parks.

The timing of all the interlocking moments Marge describes here is unclear (city officials say one thing, EBRPD says something else, residents with differing agendas say yet something else, etc., etc.) but what is clear is that EBRPD's bid to purchase the land at public auction was, somehow, shoved aside in favor of a development company, dba Tim Lewis Communities, that proposes building residences.
The City is in favor of building residences (aka "development", "in-fill", and "complying with the Housing Element") since it allows the City to implement the state-mandated Housing Element.
Here's an excerpt from the state's website:
"State law recognizes the vital role local governments play in the supply and affordability of housing. Each governing body (City Council or Board of Supervisors) of a local government in California is required to adopt a comprehensive, long-term general plan for the physical development of the city, city and county, or county. The housing element is one of the seven mandated elements of the local general plan. Housing element law, enacted in 1969, mandates that local governments adequately plan to meet the existing and projected housing needs of all economic segments of the community." Read more ... 

Now, as a side-Ramble, let Marge state that there is a faction in town who believes anything to do with the Housing Element is a ...crock.
Marge is not part of this faction.
She understands the need for something like a Housing Element in the San Francisco Bay Area; she is for affordable housing, she lives in affordable housing. And she sees the Housing Element  as more than an opportunity for planners, council-people, pro-developers, etc to build housing that does not enhance our community just because cities and planners must conform to it.
In other words, Marge is not for "Housing Element ├╝ber Alles."
For, Marge asks, isn't the theory in practice for urban design and planning to support communities and their residents rather than developers?
Here's Marge's hint to planners, council-people, etc: when in discussion with State officials remind them that Alameda is an island, that islands are bounded by water; islands have limited real estate; islands have limits  to the traffic they can accommodate, and islands have limits to the population density they can manage.
Moreover, given the reality of sea level rise, islands will soon have even more water and even less real estate than ever; promote and elevate these realities when discussing Alameda's Housing Element!

Back to the main thread of this Ramble. The convergence of 1) pressure from the state and 2) limited time to implement the Housing Element puts Alameda in the throes of what Marge terms the "Development Thrust"...the "Develop until you Can't Develop Anymore" trend...the "Developers = Gods; Residents = Little People" mindset...the "Whaddya Mean 'Progress' Requires Some Degree of Liveability?" astonishment...the "Traffic? What traffic? Alameda doesn't have a traffic problem" denial.
Knowing this, Marge pays close attention to the development goings-on around town. (Sergei pays attention too although his efforts run to offers of support: "Keep it up, Marge. One day "they" will recognize what "development" has cost all of us.")
Goings-on around Crown Beach/Crab Cove revolve around the area that City Fathers and Mothers named, first, Neptune Pointe (yes, the "e" is supposed to be there...doesn't it add a certain je ne said quoi?) and recently renamed The Neptune Beach Project .
Based on the rezoning EBRPD sued the City claiming the procedure was out of CEQA compliance and that it requires an Environmental Impact Report.
Recently, the Planning Board held a special meeting to hear public comments about the Project before generating an EIR (to be paid for by the developer).

Facts shared with the public are in short supply although there is a continuously evolving  body of unpublicized legal and development facts ...along with oodles of fiction, fantasy, and wishful thinking.  
Since pictures are said to be worth a thousand words, Marge shares here facts in pictures...plus her grassroots knowledge based on many Rambles in the disputed area as well as her attendance at Planning Board meetings.

A bit of history... from Wikipedia:
"Between 1917 and the start of World War II, the area around the [Crab Cove] visitor center was part of Neptune Beach, an amusement park and resort community that featured bathing spas and waterfront houses.
During World War II, the site was used as a training base for Merchant Marine commanders. The park was subsequently known as "Alameda Memorial Beach" until it was renamed for a local politician [Robert Crown] who was struck and killed by a vehicle while running (jaywalking). The current visitor center building was used as the base infirmary." (Read more.)
 Aerial and schematic views

This aerial view - presented in a City Planning doc - shows the layout of the currently disputed 3.89 acres.
The "U" shaped residence on the left is Crown Harbor. McKay easement runs to the right of the red line on the right. (EBRPD Visitor Center roof quite visible with Crab Cove to the right of that.)
The waters of Crab Cove Marine Preserve are right foreground.

Also compliments of City Planning, below, the schematic of the proposed complex... Marge added the red boundaries for clarity....

The schematic shows the extent of the proposed development adjacent to the "Gate",  the area where EBPRD stores its equipment and uses a fabulous historical ship-shape building, and McKay Ave. Marge will share more about this historical building in a future post. For now, though, this building, while high, is singular and, rather than loom over a human being, it intrigues.
See below for a drawing of the homes proposed. Too bad the architects didn't take a lesson from whomever designed this historical building....
Marge agrees that EBRPD's fenced off area is unsightly (not show, to the left of this historical building...about which more in a future Ramble). The unsightly bits, though, mostly are hidden behind a wooden fence that at least blends into the park at ground level; it is not now, nor will it ever be, stuffed with residents!
As another aside, at the recent special Planning Board meeting, President David Burton addressed population density for the proposed community (what Marge describes as "stuffed with residents": “This plan seems like we’re just warehousing people. It doesn’t address the proximity to the park. We’re just packing them in here, in a three to four bedroom house, with almost zero outdoor space for these folks. I would like to see something more gracious.”
Bravo, Burton!

McKay Ave, being an easement, is the fly in the developer ointment.
EBRPD has refused Lewis Communities access via McKay. If access has any chance of being granted lots more City diplomacy will be required. Based on recriminations observed in the current and past law suits between the city and EBRPD, diplomacy is in short supply.

Marge circles "Gate" on this schematic to express her anxiety about a walkway that, during daylight hours, allows public access through the Crown Harbor complex. The walkway winds along Sunny Cove and exits on Central Ave. (See Rambles 27and 23 and 13 and 12 to see how lovely is the area around which this walkway wends.)
Look again at the schematic...then look at the pix below.
Doesn't it look as if the proposed buildings will come right into the park and impede access to this gate?
Devil in the details:

View looking towards what would be the front of the proposed site with public access gate barely visible behind the fence to the left.

Imagine standing where Sergei was standing when he shot this pic...
...then imagine turning around...
...this is what you'll see

Here's a wider angled view of the Gate to/from the Crown Harbor path through the gate heading towards Crab Cove.
That's EBRPD "ship" building's roof just visible in the mid-left background.
The schematic implies that the proposed buildings will extend beyond the area now occupied by that lovely tree and alongside the wooden fence shown in the mid-ground...where you see the walkway angle to the right.

(Below) Here's a view of the sort of housing planned. Yes, three storeys high (one assumes these adhere to West End building height limits), 2-car garages under  the 3 bedroom places. (Thanks to Planning Board doc for this drawing. See more such docs.)
Don't know about you but, looking at the density proposed in the above schematic and then at these homes - Marge is suspicious that the two illustrations don't really match up - she already feels that sense of foreboding as buildings this high loom over the area and detract from the sense of openness that makes the public walkway and this park such a pleasure.
Is there space here for human beings to stretch their arms without touching a neighbor? What about space to swing a cat?

(Above) Kings Road wends through Crown Harbor residences.
Tim Lewis Communities had hoped Crown Harbor community would allow Lewis Communities residents access via this road.
That hope seems to have come to naught so...back to the drawing board.
The avenue of trees (Alameda in Spanish means avenue of trees) is home to many families of birds. Marge discovered this very early one spring/summer morning when she walked this area and was entranced by bird song.Very sad to know that this lively bird community will be disrupted, likely forever, by construction, etc.
By the way, Crown Harbor homes are two storey duplex-style, lots of lawn and space for human beings to at least stretch their arms and swing the occasional cat.

The public access walkway heading toward the gate. Kings Road amid the trees to the left. Crab Cove just beyond the spit; the row of buildings on very distant horizon is Harbor Bay.


Marge wonders, where is Neptune, the god of fresh and sea water, when needed? Would that he'd rise from his watery realm and have a heart-to-heart chat with our City Fathers and Mothers about the necessity of protecting the dwindling natural world. (Neptune, in case you're wondering, is a Roman god; the Greeks version is Poseidon - read more about this.)
In another decade natural environments in Alameda and the Bay Area will be worth far more than City Fathers and Mothers can imagine right now. Moreover, they (City Dads & Moms) would be recognized as urban visionaries, saviors of precious "vistas", superior beings who saw fit to preserve what ought to be preserved, along the lines of David Brower, John Muir...and beloved of Neptune and The People.

Learn more about Neptune Beach Project see this map of the spot and more photographs and  documents pertaining to it..

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Ramble 31: Growing, growing....

Marge's last Ramble or two (Target is the Target and  Wouldn't it be nice? (to get on with your neighbors) ) kind of veered into her ...let's say "community preservation" interests and, for uninitiated readers, may be a little...strong and/or offensive.
This Ramble reverts to a more ...relaxed view that focuses on Marge and Sergei's other interest: tracking the Gosling Collective. (See Ramble 24 and Ramble 27 for earlier trackings).
Here's the next entry in the saga of Gosling Growings and Goings-on.

What Marge most loves about the Gosling Guardians is their attitude of calm watchfulness. It results in goslings that are calm and relaxed too. Looks as if this attitude pays off as there are still 28 young 'uns...which means the birds of prey have not feasted on members of this collective. (Notice the long legs on some of the older (teenage?) goslings...)

Sunset stroll on the lawn near Crab Cove...

heading back toward the pond...

then into the water....

... and they're off!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Ramble 30: Wouldn't it be nice...?

Marge and Sergei are history buffs (each in her/his own way). And they're bikers... and hikers...and explorers who have ideas about how communities could be, if only....
The city of Alameda is a great spot for biking, hiking, exploring, idea-mongering history buffs to pontificate about what was...and what could be.
So, let the pontificating begin...

What was...
Below is the "Bird's Eye View of Oakland and Vicinity" map, published by the Oakland Tribune, that shows Alameda before it was Alameda, even before Alameda was the island that it is today. FYI: around the turn of the - last- century, engineers and visionaries cut through the peninsula that attached to the Oakland Hills (the area on the left of the map) to enlarge the estuary.

The land west (lower right) of soon-to-be Alameda on this Bird's Eye map hosted the trans-continental railroad terminus...about two decades-plus before further infill to engineer what became Navy Air Station, Alameda..
The Y-shaped water course shown on the map was in-filled to engineer current day Lake Merritt. What's left of the wider inlet to the estuary is now a narrow channel near current day Laney College and 5th Street. (If you drive or ride a bike you can reach this spot by driving along the Embarcadero; you'll know you're crossing this spot when you go over 5th Street bridge.)
The portion of land now known as Alameda Point (showing shipping and harbor on the map) was in-filled with dredge material (some of which contained "marsh crust" - a PAH-contaminated material from early coal energy industry).
Until 1995 this infill area was the active Naval Air Station, Alameda. This base was shut down in '95 and the area is now a series of contamination clean-up sites, some of which are on the National Priorities List for Superfund sites (aka CERCLA).
Across the estuary, north west of the Oakland harbor, was a military supply depot. That was shut down in the early 1990s and some of that area is now Middle Harbor Shoreline Park.

Look at Sergei's pictures ...then...
....imagine if Alameda's City Fathers and Mothers (aka the City Council) extended their interest in our city beyond a compulsion for traditional ways of managing our budget and finances;
... imagine if "we, the people" managed to convince the council to create a huge, beautiful park on the former base! (Council members will say they are creating a park...Marge means, instead of an afterthought park, rather use the whole of the "unused" - aka the "Federal portion" - and most contaminated - parts of the base and turn the whole thing into a park! Run by East Bay Regional Park District (oh, yes, almost forgot, the City and officials have set in motion what con only be ongoing grudges and bad feelings from earlier discussions on such a park. Why do our city officials appear to be widely talented in ways to rile other entities and subsequently end up in law suits? Here's another law suit...also with EBRPD. And, here's a Small Faces song for city officials to hum as they gear up for another expression of that talent: Wouldn't it be nice?
Instead of open space and beautiful park with sustainable directions, Alameda Point is destined to become the usual configuration business park with residences and all the usual "getting and spending" and laying "waste our powers" . (For a foray into different media, read below to read how William Wordsworth put this...then listen to John Lennon's still apt, "Imagine".)

Views from Middle Harbor Shoreline Park

View from the lookout tower at Middle Harbor Park into the Alameda/Oakland Estuary toward San Francisco...

(Left) Downtown San Francisco skyline, photo taken from the tip of Alameda Point.  Since this area is closed to the public for on-going contamination clean up, this pic was shot during the annual bus tour put on by the Navy Base Clean up team.
Note: the bus tour was open to the public. As of this year, 2013, it is only open to members of the Restoration Advisory Board.

(Below) Expanded view of the skyline from the same spot, the northern most tip of Alameda Point.
(Below) Oakland docks, among the busiest docks on the west coast, sits on the estuary pretty much as in the Tribune map - only a lot bigger now than it was then.

 This is a good picture to keep in mind when you read the poem, below, or listen to Wouldn't it be nice...or better yet,  listen to Imagine.


          THE world is too much with us; late and soon,
          Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
          Little we see in Nature that is ours;
          We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
          The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
          The winds that will be howling at all hours,
          And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
          For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
          It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
          A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;                        
          So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
          Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
          Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
          Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.
                      William Wordsworth, 1806.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ramble 29: Target is the Target...

Let's face it, Marge is a busybody. In general, though, she's a busybody who tries to not overwhelm readers with her more...pungent...Points-of-View. She agrees that there is a time to shut up ...and that there's also a time to put up. Today is a time to put up. In this case, it's a time to put up...more pictures. Besides, this is not Marge's first foray into this topic: Target.
Truth in advertising: Marge is not a fan of the up-and-coming Target at Alameda Landing. And, no, hers is not simply a case of NIMBY - at least, not a simple case of NIMBY - for Marge sometimes shops at Target - usually the Emeryville store.
Marge wonders, however, why the City of Alameda - a town of 72,000-or-so souls, not all of whom are regular shoppers - needs its very own 200,000-plus square feet offering Target goodies? For, hundreds of thousands of square footage of the self-same Target goodies are available within a six mile radius of any Alameda exit: El Cerrito, Albany/Berkeley, Emeryville, Hayward, and San Francisco; San Leandro's Target, once located off Davis Street, is now a Walmart. 
Here's how Marge thinks about it: since Americans LOVE to drive and, since Alamedans are Americans, why don't Alamedans drive to any of the surrounding Targets? (Here's a map with directions.)
(What's that you ask? Shouldn't Marge - the proponent of public transportation, promote not driving? Consider this: a round trip, one-person-per-vehicle trip of 12 miles costs about $2 to $3 - even in a clunker like Marge's at, say, $4 per round trip - no toll to Targets on the east side of the bay - is a lot cheaper than selling one's land to a venture like Target that takes over the land, the mentality, and the mindset of residents.)
If Alamedans had come together we could have agreed that the acreage now devoted to Target at Alameda Point could have been dedicated to something more sustainable and life-affirming than Target shopping. Because, it is not only that most of don't really need more "stuff", nor do any of us need more of the by-product that goes into creating, using, and disposing of that "stuff."
For example, think of all the fuel and human creativity that goes into creating "stuff": plastic and synthetic materials used huge amounts of fuels - and give off huge amounts of poisonous vapors, etc; transporting stuff from China to the Target distribution centers and then to Alameda (and surrounding cities with Target stores), human creativity is wasted marketing and promo'ing to persuade shoppers that they "need" that stuff, then packaging and wrapping that "stuff" so shoppers can carry it home, then the oodles of various kinds of energy to dispose of the wrapping...and the stuff itself when we tire of it and toss it out...and go purchase more "stuff." (Check out Annie Leonard's excellent and easy to watch and understand presentations of "stuff" for a deeper look into this.)
Aaaahhh. Mind boggling.
Below is the latest set of photo of Target's "evolution". Or, before looking at this set, see the earlier Ramble with accompanying batch of pix: Target's coming to town. (This slideshow is a running pictorial commentary on Target from October 2011.)

Get used to seeing this logo. It is also the first thing anyone - including first time visitors to our town - sees emerging from the Webster Tube.
To Marge this is THE symbol of what's happening in town as City Fathers and Mothers turn over our once-sleepy town to vast, anonymous corporate interests who funnel our money out of our town...except for the relatively minor amounts of sales tax of which the City only gets a very small percentage anyway.
 The picture above and the next 3 below look north toward the estuary and Oakland's Jack London Square in the background.

 This one looks towards the west, estuary behind Marge; Marina Village to her left.
 Taken from the parking lot of Mariner Square gym looking north toward the estuary. Here, Target is behind the gym and this view shows what will become the edge of the residential area...or parking lot serving Target.

This picture, looking northwest toward Coast Guard Housing, is the location of the future residential area of Alameda Point. Interestingly, it is also the site of the former Navy Fleet and Industrial Supply Center - "FISCA" - a brownfield although no one mentions that, least of all the City Fathers and Mothers.