Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The OKC Marathon is more than just a 26.2 mile run

I don’t know how many Oklahoma City citizens know this (roughly 20,000) but the noisiest cross streets in North America on Sunday, April 26, 2009 happened to be in Oklahoma City…at N.W. 6th and Harvey to be exact. I know this because I live one block away on 5th street. I was awake against my will at 6:00 a.m., but this time I was ok with it.

I have been awaken numerous times living downtown (mostly by the train because it feels the need to blow its horn for 3-4 minutes straight at 4:30 a.m.) but never have I been more…um…fulfilled to be awake so early to the sound of loud speakers and dedicated runners; dedicated to running at the remembrance of the 168 that lost their lives due of the tragedy striking Oklahoma City in 1995.

Everyone has a story of that morning. Mine happens to be one of sitting in Miss Mayer’s 6th grade English class feeling the building shake and later on at lunch hearing the announcement over the intercom of a bomb in the downtown area. I also remember seeing nothing on TV for that entire week except half of a downtown building I had never seen before yet would change my life and millions of others’ forever.

I see that site every day walking to work; walking back from work. I meet tourists all the time coming here to remember; coming here to witness. They remember that day. I remember that day. On April 26, 2009 we all remembered it together.

I’m a little embarrassed to say that I have never participated in the marathon. I think we all should. On Tuesday at lunch I talked with a friend, Nancy Redinger, who participated in the 5-person relay.  I thought to myself, “I want to do that…There are five people in my family…we should all participate.” I immediately sent out a text to my mom, my dad, my younger brother Tristan and my older brother Mike with the idea. Within minutes I got response from all of them. “Yes!” “Wow…cool” “Sounds good.” Responses I had hoped and for responses I expected.


Marathon participants pray under the Survivor Tree during a service at the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial before the start of the ninth annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, Sunday, April 26, 2009, in Oklahoma City. Photo by Sarah Phipps.

Next year team Cornett is looking to run the course. We’re looking to join those in waking those sleeping in downtown. I figure if enough join us in the cause than hopefully there will be nobody left to “wake up.” Where were you on April 19, 1995 and will you join with your neighbors and participate in someway next year?

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Gandhi

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Having 20/20 for OKC in 2020

When I finally decide to purchase a condo in downtown I want somewhere to go on a Saturday/evening walk. Somewhere to take guests from out of town where noise isn't abundant and is still in walking distance. Somewhere that takes my mind off of wishing I was back in Madrid's Retiro Park ( or NYC's Central Park and focus on being proud to be in OKC. I love being here now, but when I picture the time when all the previously stated comes true I hope it's not because the 1 block at 4th and Gaylord remains but that Core to Shore and Maps 3 come to full fruition.  

I think Blair and I are on the same side when it comes to seeing OKC become more walkable and pedestrian friendly. I hope to join in Blair's efforts to keep OKC's decision makers on track (as they have been stepping up mightily with bringing Speck and pushing for the Core to Shore plan).  

The one thing I hoped to accomplish with my last blog posting was to ensure hope into all those protesting the block at 4th and Gaylord that there is another project worth your time and efforts. I'm just hoping that enthusiasm for OKC's future isn't hanging on the fate of that block that has already been approved for change. I need all those wishing to keep OKC going in the right direction to not get discouraged yet to shift focus to what could/should be a project for OKC's next generation(s).  

Am I against those protesting for the block at 4th and Gaylord? Absolutely not. I just know that those opposing the change on that block are the ones that should also be proponents of Core to Shore. I just hope the same energy and effort spent trying to save that block will still be available as it will be needed come the vote for Core to Shore.  

Steve Lackmeyer - Thanks for the blog love, but let's see your comments too and not just snippets of Blair and I's...  

For Blair Humphreys blog - 

For Steve Lackmeyer's blog - 

Blair- Don't you have a thesis to write? :)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Walkability and the Core-to-Shore

After listening to Jeff Speck's "Walkability" presentation at the city council meeting I started to get...giddy. Yup, I admit the butterflies were floating just thinking about the great direction this city that I live in is going. One of the MAJOR things I miss about living abroad was the opportunity to just leave my apartment and get "lost" in all the shops and pubs and entertainment readily available in Madrid...without ever getting in a car. I thought Speck's presentation ideas were spot on in so many ways. Sure you can find things to argue about in the presentation, I mean, the information was made to be a 3-hour presentation so there were plenty of suggestions that can be debated.

One of the great things about being at that presentation was that I was there as a pedestrian, an urbanite, a downtown worker, a downtown walker (even though at times it seems i'm the only one) and also a downtown dreamer. I get excited about our future plans as a city and I get even more excited reading about core-to-shore.

For those that have been living in a cave you find more extensive insights into Core-to-Shore here

The Core-to-Shore project will add so much more greenspace to our already-lacking-green image. The sad thing i'm starting to notice is that all the people who are strongly for greenspace are still focusing their efforts towards the 1 square block of privately owned and privately funded Chamber building going in at 4th and EK Gaylord. Hasn't that already been approved and moved on? Sure, there is still another (I believe just 1) date set on the beautification aspect of that space...but the building is still going there, let's move on. The core-to-shore project will be bring roughly 20-square blocks of greenspace. Why can't greenspace lovers and journalists focus on what has yet not been decided on instead of still arguing over the 1-square block to argue over. That block is done, it was a good fight to keep it. But now let's join together and make sure we don't miss the boat on another big greensapce opportunity.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

"Blow your mind"

Going over to Dear's house last night (Dear is my grandma, it's the name we've called her my whole life - and it fits her quite well) at 9:15 p.m. is a testament to how great she is because unlike most grandmas (in bed by 8:00 p.m.) I can call her late at night and swing by and hangout.

When I got there Dear was in her kitchen cooking a meal to bring to some church function (Crossings Community Church - shamless plug) and not only that, she has her kitchen TV on as well as her laptop on the counter set up to the internet just browsing stuff. 

Recap- my grandma invites me over to hangout at 9:15 p.m. I arrive and see her more technologically plugged-in than numerous teenagers i know.

Ok, so I decide to show her the Google Maps street view. We cruise around OKC and then head down to Houston to look at a house she lived in back in 1970. It was a blast. After that I told her I was going to "Blow your mind" and took her overseas to Madrid to show her my old apartment and all my favorite places to walk around be with friends. 

I thought all of this was so much fun, not because I'm one of the lucky people that still has the opportunity to spend time with grandparents (two grandmas within 15 miles of my apartment) but also very proud that I have a grandma that is still very active and loves to learn about new things. From her style of living, I am continually pushed to always learn new things and to never allow myself to sit and be content. 

Thank you, Dear. Next time, don't keep ME up to late.