Sunday, January 22, 2017

Have I got a deal for you

Sleepy retail
London, ON
December 2016
On Christmas Day, my daughter and I wandered around Dundas Street for a bit. The light was iffy, and between icy sidewalks, marauding drug dealers and suspected prostitutes, we didn't hang around any longer than we needed once we were happy we had enough on our memory cards. I posted my first image here.

The experience left me ambivalent. On the one hand, this once-bustling retail street has struggled mightily to rise from the ashes as new business owners have moved in and tried to lay down substantial roots. There's an energy in the pockets of investment that dot this landscape, from the pub owned by the twentysomethings who enthusiastically greeted us on the sidewalk, to the food hub a block away that's redefining how communities are built and served.

On the other hand, the pub and the food hub are only two bright spots in a landscape that's been overwhelmingly ground down by decades of neglect and mismanagement. There's Just So Much Decay that a couple of examples of goodness can't be expected to repaint the entire neighborhood with a similar brush. At least not yet. Renewal takes time, and there's going to be a lot of messiness along the way.

Which brings me to this picture, a deliberately dead-on shot of the streetscape. It's obviously seen better days, but it also contains flashes of life that simply don't exist in a newer, tonier environment. I doubt I'd be pondering the history of a strip mall in a more conventional suburb - at least not to the same degree.

I want to come back here to see what else I can see. And feel. And what other flashes of life I can find along the way.

Your turn: Would you come here? Why? Why not?

No comments: