Category Archives: Economy

Past.Rubble.Future–Residents gather at Indianapolis’ Keystone Towers’ grounds.


Yesterday, I sat on my deck but I couldn’t focus on my assignment (quantitative analysis). It was due to the tapping that I heard– metal. Are they preparing for “her” last day? I wondered. The sound went away, but my focus drifted across the creek.

They planned to bring her down at 8:00am on Sunday.  I was scheduled to be somewhere else and share my Haiti experience with others. And I did.

I didn’t rush to her side; I knew I would see her soon enough. After lunch and errands, I picked up my dog and we went for a ride. Filled with anticipation, I turned the corner. A gasp rushed past my lips.  She didn’t look like I had expected.

Keystone Towers elevator shaft 8282011
The massive Towers were imploded and all that remained was an elevator shaft.

 Others drove by and marveled, too.  Her elevator shaft still stood, and the memories of her better days flooded my mind. I had taken that elevator up to the penthouse floor when the doorman let me in to make a delivery to a family friend.  It seemed luxurious–beautiful furniture centered in the common area, and a breath-taking view of the city. Doorman. Delivery. Family friend. Breath taking views. That was then.

An Allisonville Road resident, Steve, stood near the demolition border by me. He commented on my dog’s striking looks and then we shared memories of the Towers.  Steve agreed that Lindner’s Ice Cream was across the street and then he paused and remembered that they had  ‘great ice cream!’  They did.  

Another visitor to the demolition site.

We then recalled that Keystone Towers was a micro-city on its own– you parked your car at home, walked down the hall and got groceries, and could even take care of  personal business.  Phone company offices were there. That’s where my sister worked and I parked in the shade of the upper level’s parking deck, secured for residents.   I vaguely remember a doctor or dentist being located there too.  I try to confirm the businesses with others, but their memory is scanty.  Some thought it was too grand. And, perhaps it was. But there were businesses. Jobs. Activity. Life.

Sunday, the gray dust under my feet and the piles of concrete–pieces and slabs– jolted my memory back two weeks to the heart wrenching site of Haiti’s earthquake rubble.  

Haiti's earthquake rubble, August 2011--eighteen months after the earthquake.

Port-Au-Prince leaves you wondering: where has all the restoration money gone? People wondered the same about the Towers.

Long ago, and after a tax sale, the promise of renovation waved on  banners from her roof top, yet more broken windows and debris were the only new things found. I will never forget the evening I drove by to check for progress (I live nearby) and saw engulfing darkness broken by a brightly shining light…on an upper floor. I squinted and stared. No, it wasn’t a reflection. How could only one light be on? Why was the only light way up there? Not a trail of lights anywhere, just that light, up there. My creative mind took over and the scene for a suspenseful mystery evolved.  I drove off, never forgetting  that bright light in the midst of darkness that swallowed those who dared to come.

There are news reports that say one of the former owners of the Keystone Towers was found guilty of mortgage fraud. When the Keystone Towers fell prey to hands and lips bent toward corruption, the flow of her demise never stopped, and her grand doors gapped, unsecure, to all the negativity we hear about in her past–a shooting, drug activity, and all manner of sin.

Yet, while by her side on Sunday, I met Steve and we talked about fond memories and ice cream, and there was the couple who introduced their dog to mine. And Monday, I met another man named Stephen, and his boys-Luca and Theo.

Luca, Theo and Stephen watch the demolition of the elevator shaft.

We swapped stories and I peered over Theo’s head as they showed me their video of the snatch down of the Towers’ elevator shaft. (Thanks again for letting me share this, Stephen! Theo, I agree with you. It was coooool! Luca, thanks for being concerned that I could see the video.)

Strangers talked and shared with one another.  Others drove by. People smiled. That was Monday.

And on Monday, we all agreed, the Tower’s  site is a place with great potential. It  is already bringing strangers together in good-natured ways. The negative past is falling like the dust she stirs as more of her falls.  As the Towers resist  forces meant to destroy,  a greater sense of community builds.

On this beautiful Tuesday morning,  it was fitting that the last I saw of her was a cloud of dust. 

 I turned to take a photo of  the surroundings, and voices of women walking on Fall Creek’s trail filled the air. A black man cast his bait into Fall Creek, while an Asian man leaned against the trail’s bridge and slowly looked around. A white man, dressed in yellow and black riding gear, pedaled across the creek’s bridge. Diversity.  Recreation. No fear.

Fall Creek Greenway, located across the way from the Keystone Towers demolition site.

One can only hope that the City of Indianapolis will keep their commitment and ask for development proposals, and give the community a voice into what can become of the grounds. If the City needs help gathering ideas, I stand ready. I have already enjoyed the charm of the Keystone Towers grounds.

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The Chase is on…


Have you ever pictured yourself chasing an opportunity? What does it look like in your mind?  Is it a half-hearted jog ( like to catch the ice cream truck) or an intense sprint –like one induced by all your possessions being taken away, along with your only form of transportation.

I recently signed on to a service that provides opportunities to “meet” nearby businesses through discounted coupons. I’ve liked most of what I’ve seen promoted. One day I saw a rare opportunity! Just what I needed flashed on my email screen and the price was definitely something I could afford. My finicky side and my frugal fists stood staring at the announcement, looked at each other, and a little celebration ensued (they don’t get too many chances to party together–usually one or the other!).  I KNEW this was the opportunity for me so I said, “I’ll come back to this!”    

BIG MISTAKE! 

                                          View Details                View Details

Not only did my busy bee nature flit on to the next thing, but it was days before I slowed down long enough to remember the prime opportunity. Today. Sigh. So I lost out, and turn my nose up at every reminder that pops up in my day, which points to my need and how it would have been fulfilled if only I hadn’t let it walk away. Lesson learned… 

In this tough economy there are rare opportunities presenting themselves–IF we look for them.  Just this week I heard of another city offering free business space to those who are interested. FREE BUSINESS SPACE? Yes! ( If this appeals to you, check your local Chamber of Commerce or Downtown Development Authority or whoever governs the area with abundant unused commercial space. Special conditions apply.)  But…just like a bare-footed chase  doesn’t have the same chance as one in athletic gear (unless you’ve been training for this), we can’t chase opportunities unprepared. This is where other FREE  opportunities step in. Workshops and training on enhancing our education, business, resume writing, cooking–you name it and it might be available!   Just because it is free does not  mean it isn’t valuable! New learning is better than none. And, just like pennies passed by, if we’d take advantage of what is available it might add up in the end!

On that note, I’ve got to go tie up my tennis shoes! I’ve got an opportunity to chase!

Caio!

Kerstin

P.S. If you need some help finding something, let me know!

athletes,deserts,fitness,joggers,nature,persons,Photographs,runners,running,shadows,sports

A sea of cars–the auto industry resurgence.


President Obama visited metro Detroit auto plants today. Here are highlights and a few thoughts and questions about the auto industry. 
 
HIGHLIGHTS: 
  • I got the sense the President really liked the Chevy Volt.  As for the test drive, he was only able to go a few feet due to safety, so it was more like an “inch-along “. 
  • Why the Chevy Volt got attention:  According to Chevrolet’s website, “The Volt is an electric car that uses gas to create its own electricity. Plug it in, let it charge overnight, and it’s ready to run on a pure electric charge for up to 40 miles — gas and emissions free. After that, Volt keeps going, even if you can’t plug it in. Volt uses a range-extending gas generator that produces enough energy to power it for hundreds of miles on a single tank of gas.” ( I am intrigued by the car’s technology, reduced dependence on gas, and it’s look– something about those beautiful car “eyes”. 😀 )

  

Chevy Volt. Image retrieved from http://www.chevrolet.com.

 MORE HIGHLIGHTS:  

  • The President said  the Cash for Clunkers program worked to stimulate industry activity, despite the  naysayers who suggested letting the American auto industry sink.
  • New jobs were recently announced in the auto-industry, resulting in 55,000 new jobs since last June.
  • A male autoworker thanked the President and told him, ‘I needed to get out of the house’. The President suggested the guy’s wife probably liked the change more. 🙂
  •  “This is the first time since 2004 that all three auto companies are showing profits,” said President Obama. ( I knew we should have purchased Ford stock when it was at $2.00 a share!)

Ford profitability 2009
  •  One of the biggest cheers rose from the crowd when President Obama said he’d learned about the fate of Chrysler’s Sterling Heights Assembly Plant. Chrysler corporate headquarters attributes Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler Group CEO with credit for this decision: “Chrysler Group’s decision to keep the Sterling Heights (Mich.) Assembly Plant (SHAP) open beyond 2012 and add a second shift of nearly 900 workers in early 2011 was reached in order to support the company’s long-term product plan. After a careful review of all of our manufacturing operations, it became evident that more production capacity was needed and it made good business sense to extend the life of SHAP.” 
 

 

MY FINAL THOUGHTS  AND QUESTIONS: 

 Why did the auto industry  struggle  for so many years?  Was it more than the economy?  How will production respond to people being encouraged to save money and rely less on credit?

 

When I first moved to Michigan I was astounded by the sea of cars on a lot nearby–collecting dust, receiving rain, and waiting for buyers.  The auto  industry had sunk and maybe it was knowledge of the industry’s struggle along with images of rows and rows of cars that caused concern.  Also, the unemployment rate in Michigan was increasing.

Who would buy the cars?  Surely, the well compensated leadership has already thought this through, right?

I asked older acquaintances about their car-buying habits decades ago. Were there lots full of cars? How often did you buy a new car?   I asked them to describe the new car buying experience and they told me:

 “We only had one car.”

 “We bought used cars.”

“New cars were a luxury we couldn’t afford.”

“They might have had a few new cars, but  you had to order the car you wanted.”

Some shared their thoughts on why auto production shifted long ago from an ordering system to a sea of available cars. Speculations ranged from union influences to increased consumer purchasing habits, and combinations of both, along with other ideas. Yet, despite news of profit margins,  few reports are heard about more than a return to production and new technology.

How will the auto industry adjust to changes in buyer habits?

It is thrilling to hear auto workers have gone back to work. I hope and pray the cities  around the industry begin to show signs of life–Michigan needs it desperately.  But there is still something awry in a sea of waiting cars…

How did this happen? What have we done to reasonably make sure this never happens again? Is that even possible?

One can only hope the solutions have been found. 

Auto industry, America needs you!  You might be teaching the most valuable lesson around!

Caio~   

Kerstin

Hello world! Brave enough to be different? The President on The View.


Today was a historic day–watched a sitting president on a talk show and started my first blog! 

What a kick off  day for a blog!!  President Obama’s talk show appearance was just the kind of event that I’d like to sit down and talk about over a cup of coffee and a warm croissant! How I’d love to be at America’s water coolers and coffee rooms tomorrow!  I enjoy fair and thoughtful debates, good conversations, and learned the power of a question long ago–questions, questions, questions! I don’t enjoy hateful and mean discourse because I don’t see the point, but …that’s me. (I am not supposed to have hateful comments here so please don’t do it if you’re angry about the topic. Please! You’ll get me kicked off on my first day!)

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

 Back to the topic. I do remember hearing the announcement, “President Obama will be on “The View”,” and I thought long and hard: Why would he choose to do that?  Then, I decided I needed to watch the show to see if a  former boss’ training of reading an agenda was still fresh.  As I sit here writing, I don’t think I learned anything new by watching the show. A fair conclusion had been reached before I watched it.  I believed there was a calculated risk being taken. He’d been on the show before and seems to have three out of the four (or…four out of the five) supporting him, or, at the least, pleasant toward him. Then, there’s Elizabeth… She represents those who staunchly “disagree” (at least on most matters–Afghanistan budget support was a shift).  My conclusion: the ladies of “The View” represent  opinions of America–people who support and like him no matter what, people who might disagree but are giving him a chance to prove himself and turn things around, and those who have never liked losing the control to “that one” (as Senator McCain disrespectfully called him during the campaign). 

Why be on “The View”?

My thought: the show appearance was probably in the works for a while–too many details for last-minute–so it might have been a “we can do this America” appearance. Why on “The View”?  I’d argue–representative opinions. Ladies sit on the panel and watch the show, but guys watch too. (Guys, you know you might do an occasional “click by” on the remote. Am I wrong? Would you tell?)  I’d be willing to bet that he knew tough times were going to call for bravery.  Bravery on the part of the people and bravery from our leaders. Maybe I’m wrong but follow me a second. President Obama, unlike Senator McCain (who openly admitted this as a shortcoming), proclaims to know a bit about economic principles.  Most economists knew we were in for a doozy and I believe the President got that sense too! Things were crumbling all around, before and after the 2008 election. No one really knew where it would stop and guesstimates were made as to what to do.  Ask an economist…

Thoughts after watching the show…

I think this was an effort to bring ease about the economy’s state,  and to be out there, informally, so people can see and hear him for themselves.  He spoke openly on the show about how political power-shift energy generates too much attention and that governing should take precedence. Okay. So… I believe he bravely positioned himself to take a punch on the political chin, knowing that people are drastically divided politically; knowing that people would be saying, “Uh…don’t YOU have governing to do?”; knowing that the media will hop on this with a whip and spurs, and knowing that many won’t understand (and will question) his “real” reason for being there. (See “Extra Stuff” for the President’s words.) After watching his appearance it did seem he was trying to cheer folks on. He didn’t point out that there has been multi-level irresponsibility that got us into this situation–a debt reliant citizenry, unscrupulous and shameful business and bank practices,  and policy and government officials who failed to institute their checks and balances–or that there’s a group of fiscally responsible people who are now struggling  when they shouldn’t be. He didn’t say that, nor did he point out that the whole world is struggling economically. He went on a talk show and cheered us on, sort of in the same manner as FDR’s radio spot–the fireside chat.

Retrieved from PBS.org's Whitehouse timeline files

“There must be confidence in the people! …You people must have faith!… Let us unite in vanishing fear!” FDR confidently encouraged in his first fireside chat. (I listened to the audio file.) The last words of FDR’s  first chat were, “Together we can not fail!”  President Obama’s parting words on “The View” were: “There’s no reason why America … shouldn’t continue to be the greatest country on earth for decades and centuries to come. But, we just have to remind ourselves of what makes us great. And hopefully, I’ll be able to help lead the country through this difficult time so that we can continue on this extraordinary journey that we’ve been on.”

Slowly I begin to wonder, what will people say of President Obama’s chat on “The View” seventy some years from now…

Caio!  ~ Kerstin