Friday, May 06, 2011

6 MAY 11: Flowers Now or Later?

You probably don't need a reminder from me, but Sunday is Mother's Day. I'm a bit surprised the National Infantry Museum doesn't mark this occasion with a display on the battle to liberate Kuwait 20 years ago. After all, Saddam Hussein called it the "mother of all battles."

Flowers are always popular gifts for Mother's Day - but in one corner of Columbus, flowers will have a new purpose beginning this weekend: crime-fighting. And who wouldn't prefer to see violets, instead of violence?

The city Office of Crime Prevention is endorsing a neighborhood flower garden which is being started in the Bibb City area. I've heard of efforts to "stem the tide" of crime in Columbus, but this isn't the definition of stem I had in mind.

Crime Prevention Director Seth Brown told WRBL Thursday a community garden planned at the Bibb City Triangle "offsets some of the juvenile crime" in the Bibb City area Well, at least it will make up for reduced basketball hours at Comer Gym....

Seth Brown went on to say young people will be encouraged to work in the flower garden. The Crime Prevention Director quoted an old maxim: "Idle hands are the devil's workshop." But of course, these days an "idol voice" can make you a TV and recording star.

But I can hear the scoffers now, saying Seth Brown's lofty goal for a "Bibb Village" flower garden is idle-istic idealistic. In fact, they might even recommend the appropriate flowers to grow at that triangle are pansies....

The scoffers probably would have a hard time believing today's teenagers would be more interested in cultivating flowers than scouting criminal locations. After all, Georgia didn't get the nickname "Dirty South" because of the peanut and cotton crops.

The flower garden project actually is part of a larger vision Seth Brown has - to create neighborhood associations in every part of Columbus. Brown told WDAK's "Viewpoint" last week the associations are different from "neighborhood watch" groups, because they can discuss topics not related to crime. For instance, why does Billy Bob down the street never invite me to his cookouts?

(Brown's vision includes a structure with "Block Directors" reporting to association officers. Come to think of it, this approach sounds very familiar - and I think eastern European countries liberated themselves from it more than 20 years ago.)

If the neighborhood flower garden works this year, Bibb Village might expand it to include a vegetable garden in 2012. That probably would be much more practical for the neighborhood's residents, since many of them have moderate incomes. There's a reason why The Fresh Market and Target were placed on the opposite side of Brookstone School....

But let's face it: we'll probably need several years to see if neighborhood associations with gardens really are effective in reducing juvenile crime. Will teenagers develop a habit of digging deep into the soil during spring and summer? Or will they mow lawns - while wearing "state prisoner" T-shirts?

-> It was a happy Cinco de Mayo for us in online poker. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG UPDATE: As promised, we have an update on a former WTVM meteorologist. More than five weeks after his dismissal, he's found a little work....

As for me, I'm just trying to stay busy. And if I may be cryptic, "the wheels are turning", so to speak.

The only school appearances I've made were as a paid substitute teacher in the MCSD. This is actually the 11th year I've been a sub at certain high schools. My previous opportunities were of course limited by demands of my full-time job, but now on most days I'm available in a pinch if needed.

Kurt Schmitz

Schmitz is a big baseball fan -- and when baseball announcers use that phrase "the wheels are turning," it means there are about to be changes in the lineup. We'll see if he names a new attorney in a few days.

I never realized Kurt Schmitz was a substitute teacher. He probably can help Shaw High School students with their broadcasting lab, assist other teenagers with science projects - and there's no one better for teaching U.S. geography than someone who pointed at maps for years.

We'll keep exploring for more as time permits. Now let's see what made news on Cinco de Mayo 2011....

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported Chattahoochee Valley Library System Director Claudya Muller is proposing to close all branches one extra day a week, to save money. It's not clear to me if this will include the central library on Macon Road. It had better not - since the closing of Books-A-Million would send reading lovers flocking to the Publix magazine racks in Cross Country Plaza.

+ The new "duck voice" made his first trip to Aflac Tower. Dan McKeague of Minnesota told WLTZ his first TV commercial took 105 minutes of studio time, and required 96 takes. It takes a long time to wear out your voice, so that duck sounds gravelly in the throat.

+ A new comedy about Columbus called "Lakebottom Proper" premiered at the Springer Opera House. This sounds like it has the potential to become a regularly-updated play about local topics, similar to what an Atlanta theatre has presented for years. In a few years, you'd simply exchange a redheaded bean counter with a youthful Baker....

(Who knows -- this production could inspire a spinoff play called "Cusseta Road Improper.")

+ The RiverCenter competed with that premiere by presenting the national touring production of "Spamalot." It's a musical-comedy based on the Monty Python troupe - although in 2011 many young people probably think that title refers to their InBoxes.

+ Georgia head football coach Mark Richt visited Columbus. Richt told WTVM he opposes a large-scale college football playoff because it might make mid-season games less meaningful. And we all know how high-stakes that early-November game against New Mexico State is likely to be.

SCHEDULED THIS WEEKEND: Our "memorial tribute" to Usama bin-Laden, recalling some of our favorite jokes about him....

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