Gloria Ferris

one woman’s view from a place by the zoo in the city

Archive for December, 2005

Stars and the Cost of Electricity

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This weekend was the annual Shearer Family Christmas get- together and as usual, Tim and I ventured to the country to attend. On our way home after a day of reminiscing, catching up on the year’s events, and partaking of the usual scrumptious treats, Tim asked me if there was anything I missed about home. I thought about it for a few minutes and realized that we were not leaving my home but driving towards it. Cleveland is my home and Shreve is where I came from, where I started, but my roots are now in Cleveland.

But there is something I miss about the country—the stars. I miss looking up at a summer’s sky and identifying the Milky Way. I don’t think that I have ever seen the Milky Way in Cleveland. And, on a crisp winter’s night when you look up and see millions of stars, it is easy to dream. I remember my father standing on a hillside and showing me how to locate the North Star and how he said as long as I knew where to find the North Star, I would never be lost.

At about this point in the conversation, we entered the portion of I-71 around Strongsville where all you can see for miles is row upon row of lights that illuminate the night sky as if it were day. The conversation quickly shifted from being a kid in the country dreaming to the here and now and questioning who pays for these lights, are the rates paid the same that an average consumer pays, are all these lights necessary in a world where spiraling out-of-control energy costs are consuming ever more precious dollars, and do the benefits outweigh the costs of these lights? Where do I find the answers to these questions? Do our state dollars pay for these lights, or is it our local dollars, because ultimately it is the consumer who pays for these lights? Should we question the way our government spends the dollars we pay them?

I remember in the 1970s there was a real push for conservation of natural resources, but with the excess of lighting fixtures along interstates these days, it does not appear to the naked eye that those conservation rules stuck. Shouldn’t we be looking at ways to cut down our dependency on the utility companies and look for alternative ways to illuminate our cities, or should we be discussing the need for illuminating the interstate road system? And my last question is simply this: If government receives a discounted rate for electricity, does this mean that the everyday consumer picks up the tab in the rates

Written by Gloria Ferris

December 20th, 2005 at 3:35 pm

Posted in growing an economy

New Skin for the Old Ceremony

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Our friend Tina of Distracted Mind has recommended we eschew our bandwith hog, b2evolution, and move on to WordPress as the vehicle/container/platform or whatever you call it for this blog, and we always follow Tina’s sage advice. So, I guess we will soon get a new “skin,” as the young folks call the trappings of the blog today, and it all just reminded me of the old Leonard Cohen album.

We must always be careful not to get too attached to things, lest we wind up in a Leonard frame of mind too often for our own good.

Written by Gloria Ferris

December 17th, 2005 at 3:26 am

Posted in things to do

A Ward 15 Treasure

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On a snowy afternoon while Tim was researching Riverside Cemetery he stumbled onto the Barbarowa Neighborhood site. Tim and I had a hard time pronouncing the neighborhood’s name until one of our friends (who goes to church at Saint Stanislaus Church over on East 65th) told us that we should be pronouncing the “w” as if it were a “v” — much simpler. This site recounts the history of a neighborhood in Ward 15 that surrounds Saint Barbara?s Church. There are family trees, maps, historical information, all sorts of anecdotal tidbits, and photographs. Did you know the Big Creek that runs through the Metroparks Zoo was originally called Countryman?s Creek? If you are interested in the history of Cleveland, genealogy or just a curious soul, this site is worth exploring. Tim and I were amazed at the number of streets that are now totally gone, the lakes that were filled in, and the amount of woods that came down to make way for the Jennings Freeway. Check out the site–it is a treat.

Written by Gloria Ferris

December 15th, 2005 at 10:57 am

Posted in Brooklyn Centre

Welcome, Equanimous Roger

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Our friend Roger Bundy has begun to blog this month as the Cleveland Equanimous Philosopher at http://www.fsgf.blogspot.com/

I’m sure you’ll find him as charming and as interesting as we do. Note his measured comments on the “Poor Richard” issue.

Also, note his challenge on finding/guessing/discerning/divining the origins of fsgf, and the monetary reward.

Roger is one of our Ward 15 neighbors–lives here, and just moved his business here–local production for local consumption.

Written by Gloria Ferris

December 14th, 2005 at 9:52 pm

Realtors Designation: Historic Real Estate Specialist

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Yesterday, we were wondering about the Realtors’ “Historic Real Estate Specialist designation”–it seemed like a great idea when we were talking with Jim Robinson the other day–so we emailed Kathleen Crowther over at the Cleveland Restoration Society (CRS) who in turn put us in contact with Jennifer Sandy at the National Trust’s (NTHP’s) Chicago office, who told us the following:

The National Trust in partnership with ERA Franchise Systems Inc. runs architecture courses for real estate professionals periodically throughout the nation. You can find out more about this course at the ERA website–
http://www.era.com/eraabout/nationaltrust.html

This site also allows you to search for a Historic Real Estate Specialist by state. You can also find out more about the National Trust’s other corporate partners at our website–
http://www.nationaltrust.org/corporate_partners/our_partners.asp#era

I hope this information is helpful, thank you for your interest.

Poking around still more, we found the NTHP has opened the dialogue we’re looking for and speaks to what we should be doing out here on the street with older properties: http://www.nationaltrust.org/historic_homeowner/buying_selling/

However, a search for Realtors with the designation current through ERA turned up, for all of Ohio, one lady in Westerville–
http://www.era.com/nationaltrust/historic.php

It seems to us that the designation needs to be promoted regardless of the Realtor’s current affiliation with ERA, or however it was that the list was truncated so that only one popped up in Ohio. The National Trust has the designation in place, and we think it makes a significant distinction to help people select a real-estate professional to handle property in an historic context.

Now, I’m beginning to be curious how the CRS and CABOR (Cleveland Area Board of Realtors)–and perhaps even the OAR, the Ohio Association of Realtors, might further promote this designation/certification locally. Based on our contacts over the past few years with Realtors in the Archwood-Denison area, we see a marked need for more sensitivity to issues of the intrinsic value of vintage real estate. Many of them we have talked to (Jim Robinson excepted, of course) seem to have no idea what historicity can add to the bottom line.

Written by Gloria Ferris

December 14th, 2005 at 9:52 am

Tired Rant: There Oughta Be a Law

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We just spent prime work time, from 0830 to noon, deleting spam–especially pornspam, Rolexspam, loanspam, and pharmacyspam–from this blog, so that we could see where our readership actually was coming from. At the risk of sounding like Mr. Feagler, or the Sunday funnies, “There oughta be a law….”

Written by Gloria Ferris

December 13th, 2005 at 12:00 pm

Posted in growing an economy

Jim Robinson, Realtor Extraordinaire

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We had coffee the other day, here at the electronic cottage, with a very interesting person, a realtor from Smythe, Cramer/Howard Hanna who has a good grasp of the real-estate realities of our northern Ohio market. His name is Jim Robinson, and his name has kept cropping up in conversations lately when we talk with our friends about houses in Archwood-Denison, Tremont, and Lakewood, so we decided we needed to meet him. Based on our initial contact, we feel very strongly that he?s a good person to get to know.

Our conversation, our coffee-talk, ranged broadly, and a few interesting points surfaced.

1. Archwood-Denison, and Ward 15 in general, is a location that is ideally situated geographically and reasonably priced right now. It?s market position is that it can be considered an ?up and coming? place to live where you have location, location, location, quality structures, off-street parking, built-up intrinsic value, and access alleys?just like the ?New Urbanism,? except in this case we might term it ?authentic urbanism.? In short, we?ve got it all, and it?s available right now at bargain prices. And, there?s tons of green space as well as ambient breezes here in the ?Uplands.?
2. The Brooklyn Centre Historical Society provides the ?Reflections from Brooklyn Centre? book, 324 pages of local lore that few if any other neighborhoods can say they have. (The Cleveland Public Library, downtown branch, just ordered 10 copies, by the way.)
3. Young people should think about returning to the common-sense money ideas of their grandparents and great-grandparents, buying their first property as a rental property, living in part of it, and expanding their holdings as their financial resources allow. Single-family homes are a reward for doing well, building equity, and managing rental property wisely. Owner proximity to rental property and owner availability to tenants is key to the success of landlords and the growth of value in the properties.
4. Owner occupancy is critical to the financial success and the prosperity of a neighborhood. People moving from their first homes or children inheriting houses need to be mindful that once an owner-occupied property becomes rental property, it stays rental property, and rental property does not sell at the same premium price that owner-occupied property does?sometimes, it?s 15% less. Furthermore, there is a glut of housing for rent right now, and much has been vacant for a very long time. Upscalers and inheritors may be better off selling immediately instead of undergoing the depreciation typically inherent in the conversion to rental property.
5. Average residential real-estate appreciation in the area is, over the long haul, around 4% per year.
6. The Mercedarian Order, at St. Rocco?s and Mount Carmel, has been instrumental in helping build strong neighborhoods, and continues to do so.
7. We need to be talking more about attractive, innovative in-fill housing as well as fixing what treasures we?ve got. There is very little true ?junk? in Archwood-Denison, and young people would be well-served to discover the values available there now.

Anyway, Jim is an interesting person and a true professional whose opinions and ideas we value. Go see more about him at http://jamesrobinson.howardhanna.com/site.cfm

He is the only one we know in this area who is ?Designated as an Historic Home Sale Specialist by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.?

Written by Gloria Ferris

December 13th, 2005 at 7:44 am

Posted in Brooklyn Centre

Dick Feagler: On the way to becoming a curiosity

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As a blogger, today I?m writing defensively. Before anyone questions my fact-checking concerning the title of my post, please let me inform you that my definition of a curiosity comes from the Oxford English Dictionary, and I quote, it is something upon which there is ?care or attention carried to excess or unduly bestowed upon matters of inferior moment.? May I suggest that Mr. Feagler has become a victim of carrying his love affair with the past and his adherence to the mantra that ?The good old days hold nothing but fond memories of how much better things were then than now? to the point that he is making himself obsolete, as is the paper that pays for his opinions?

We are on the cusp of a new golden age of interactive journalism, one that is totally present and engaged, one that has no need to root around in feel-good fabrications of the way things used to be (but, truth be told, weren?t). The traditional journalism of our past allowed for Letters to the Editor. How many times have you written letters to the editor? How many times have your letters been published? Today, we are allowed access to traditional reporters by the email address listed at the bottom of articles, but this correspondence can be deleted read or unread, or read and responded to privately, but is rarely responded to in print. And now, we come to an evolving traditional journalism, which adds blogs to certain in-depth series in the newspapers (i.e., the one on the Ratners & FCE) in an attempt to add a more in-depth approach to a story already in print by allowing the reader to go to links that may give a different, more balanced view of the article?s subject. Oh yes, and these blogs also allow restricted, edited comments from chosen readers. All I have described so far is how MSM (mainstream media) in our town has decided to try to continue to control dialogue.

Well, Mr. Feagler, let me introduce you to the dawn of the new age of journalism here in Cleveland?the blogosphere where readers can correct faulty fact-checking immediately or flesh out a fact that the reader feels deserves more attention through a comment or by adding a post to their own blog. Readers can comment immediately or, after some thought, reply to a post, knowing that if their comment falls within comment policy guidelines, they will have a place in the dialogue concerning this subject. It allows for both sides of an issue to be discussed. In your case, Mr. Feagler, many people have said that they have enjoyed your jogs down memory lane but are rather shocked at the nastiness you showed towards the bloggers. My response to the nastiness issue is that people who are under siege often react with hostility to what they do not know or understand. Apparently, the bloggers have touched a raw nerve.

Before I comment further about the Feagler blogger opinion-piece, let me just say that I did not read it until after I visited Brewed Fresh Daily. The Feagler column has become too predictable and mundane for me to spend my time reading it on any regular basis. So let me just say this, he had one more reader than he usually does, and all because bloggers commented on him and made me go to the source material, out of curiosity and fairness. I think that being called a ?liar? was probably what made me write this post. I know many of the bloggers in our Northeast Ohio community personally, and we are not liars. We are trying the best way we know how to give Northeast Ohioans other viewpoints, more facts, and a voice in the dialogue that will be the future of our region.

Blogs are interactive organisms that grow and multiply, network and combine, and in so doing, become more open, more responsive to suggestion and fact enhancement. They become larger and more important, more significant, more trenchant, more true, with each interaction. They balance themselves and are self-correcting and self-healing; they find their own way. They connect, disband, and reconnect. If you don?t believe me about the greatness of what?s happening here, look at how much time ?static? journalism spends trying to discount blogging, to take it over, and, when that fails, to ?spin? it. It?s a threat. It?s a world-change. It?s the end of an old order, an old estate, an old curiosity.

Written by Gloria Ferris

December 12th, 2005 at 5:51 pm

Posted in Cleveland

Couldn’t Ask for a Better Day

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Today is a great day to be in Brooklyn Centre because today is the annual Holiday Art Sale and Candlelight Christmas Home Tour put on by Art House and Archwood-Denison Concerned Citizens.

Sheryl Hoffman, executive director of Art House and her wonderful staff have put together a great sale featuring seventeen local artists who will offer ceramics, prints, photography, jewelry, handmade cards and more for sale at Art House, located at 3119 Denison Avenue. (If you’ve gone to the link and noted the admission prices, see below that admission pricing is suspended this year!)There will also be a bake sale with proceeds benefiting Art House and Archwood-Denison Concerned Citizens. The Holiday art sale is free and open to the public.

The Candlelight Christmas Home Tour, which was full-sized on the drawing board earlier this year, has downsized itself as if by magic to only four exhibits and, therefore, will be offered for the wonderful low price of nothing-at-all. The organizations will gratefully and humbly accept any donations, but nothing is required.

We have two great houses on the tour?one seen a few years ago, the other a first-time offering–a beautiful church on Archwood, and the restored 1840?s chapel located in Riverside Cemetery. We understand that holiday music in the form of a violinist and a band were planned to accompany you on your tour as well. And, you also get a chance to see the Quonset Hut Studio at Art House and the art sale.

So, if you are facing a snowy Sunday afternoon in Cleveland with nothing to do, why not venture out to the Holiday Art Sale at 3119 Denison Avenue and then take a wonderful leisurely walk?or drive– through the snow and tour Brooklyn Centre while munching on bakery from our bake sale. The sale begins at 1 p.m. at Art House where maps of the tour will be available, and we hope to see you there! ?It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…”

Written by Gloria Ferris

December 11th, 2005 at 10:12 am

Fantastic Opening at a Fabulous Space

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Tim and I had the pleasure of attending Thomas Frontini?s art show opening at convivium33 gallery. I am at a loss for words on how to describe Thomas?s paintings and the beauty of the gallery. They are both must-sees.

For a preview of the paintings showcased at the gallery, visit the Frontini website, but don?t stop there. You must see the paintings at the gallery to get the essence of the artistry of Thomas. There is whimsy, there is humor, there is message. And, my descriptions do not do the artwork justice. Trust me, you need to see the artwork for yourself, with the proper lighting, in the appropriate space, and give yourself the ability to step up to it and then back from it. Alternative perspectives are important with this particular artist?there is more than one level at which you need to do your viewing, your savoring. The show runs through January 29th, 2006, so you have plenty of time to get there, unless God has other plans for you. Maybe it?s better to ?Seize the day.?

And then, there is the rebirth of St. Josaphat Church. What an intriguing alternative use?adaptive reuse–of space! The school has become studio space for artists, and the sanctuary holds the gallery. The convivium33 gallery website gives a good overview, but the space deserves a true-life, on-the-ground exploration. The space feels great?it?s awesome just to walk through the doors and see the pews gone. When you go to the website, be sure to take the time to read the introduction which treats the church?s evolution with compassion and reverence of its past and its future.

In the deep dark days of December and January here in Cleveland, Tom Frontini?s artwork will give you a memory of soft summer breezes at the seaside and so much more.

We went to the Tremont Holiday Hop afterwards, and everything else we saw after our exposure to Frontini and the Josaphat space paled by comparison. But Tremont will always be one of our favorites because we see so many friends there and we always feel welcomed there.

Written by Gloria Ferris

December 10th, 2005 at 11:45 am

Posted in places to see