Thursday, July 5, 2012

Save Sydney Hih

Every time a building is razed, a tiny chunk of history crumbles to dust. Architectural identity...cultural vanishes in a cloud of diesel fumes and rubble. Sure, the building lives on in the memories of those who experienced it. But memory is a poor substitute for reality.

In Milwaukee, there's a complex of buildings called the Sydney Hih complex. The Sydney Hih buildings have seen it all--from showcasing the Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam in the Unicorn to housing Prophet William Blackmon's Revival Center Shoe Repair and Shine Parlor. And now Sydney Hih is on death row: the bulldozers' blades gleam menacingly, the wrecking balls swing like ominous pendulums, ticking away the hours until Sydney Hih will be no more.

A group of preservationists is trying to save the complex, as it has been saved multiple times in the past. They've been fighting to get Sydney Hih designated as historic--and therefore undemolishable. The city of Milwaukee has overturned the historic designation, and unless some savior were to come forward, there will be nothing in the way of the encroaching bulldozers.

I've blogged before about America's illogical approach to political problem-solving. We seem to think that the process has two steps, when in fact it should have three. The popular approach is as follows:

  • Identify the problem.
  • Remove the problem.
  • The third step is nothing. There is no third step.

The correct approach goes like this.

  • Identify the problem.
  • Remove the problem.
  • Provide a positive solution.

There is a solution. John Raettig and his group Raettig Redevelopment have come forward with a positive solution, a way to remedy the concerns about safety and economic impact raised by the city. The process is complete.

There's a petition you can sign (of course there is) requesting the Milwaukee Common Council to have pity on Sydney Hih. This isn't just about history, this isn't just about cultural heritage; it's about rewarding entrepreneurship. It's about using common sense. It's about not missing opportunities.

Sign here, so Sydney Hih can be saved.

Long live citizenship!

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