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March 2, 2005

New! Signs of the Cities

Ever since I moved to the cities, I've been taken by the charm of local signage. Sure, Portland has it's cool signs--most notably the White Stage sign that's now the Made in Oregon sign. But, the cities exude a great deal of character through signs. For some time now, I have wanted to collect images of signs around town as a way of documenting my own experiences with the cities as well as acknowledging the diversity of history and culture in the cities.

So, we begin with a somewhat boring sign, but one of some importance to me:

wulling hall Medium Web view.jpg

I promise the photo quality will improve as time goes by. I took this one somewhat impulsively, impatient to begin this project. Wulling Hall has interesting significance to me. I moved to the cities to attend the University of Minnesota, and I thought I would spend much of my time in Wulling, as it is the home of my departmental affiliation, Education Policy and Administration. However, it turns out that I, in fact, spend very little time in Wulling because I work in Appleby Hall, just down Pleasant Street from Wulling. I am much happier in Appleby than I ever would have been in Wulling. This picture intrigued me for a few other reasons--the snow, of course, but also the footsteps through the snow. Where are they going? The door is not on that side of the building. I think that sometimes, good snow is just meant to be walked through.

This is just the first sign of the cities. Check back for more signs! In the meantime, feel free to add your own thoughts on signs of the cities. What are your favorite signs around the cities? What makes them significant to you? Let me know where they are--maybe they'll show up here! Happy sign gazing!

Posted by chri1010 at March 2, 2005 11:36 PM | Signs of the Cities


Dear Laurene -
Even though this is a public blog, I can say 'dear' because you're my sister. For the rest of you reading this blog entry, you can say 'dear' too, because my sister is dear, and sensitive, and kind, and very funny sometimes. If you're not a lover of the Vikings and lentil soup (yuk!), you can still call her 'dear' as she's also pretty accepting of people with differing points of view...tolerance of misguided souls is her forte!
As you know, Laurene, I just got news of this blog site. As a result, I read it from its inception during the winter break to the current entry - almost 3 months worth of entries. Viewing it that way gave me an interesting perspective. All of the entries leading up to the signage posting seemed to make that actual picture reflect everything you had written up to that entry!
You begin with an entry explaining what most people in the north do when the reality of winter arrives...sit inside and watch it snow outside, thinking of all the things they could and should be doing, but instead being captivated by the indoor things that make going out into the cold less attractive, especially with a 3 year old. (Robert Munsch's book "I have to go" comes to mind...) And then, you decide to do what most people with cabin fever do - you just gotta go make some footprints in that fresh bed of snow. You go out with no particular purpose in mind other than to clear your mind and DO something, even if that doing something - like the footprints - doesn't particularly lead you anywhere.
When you return indoors, the malaise of cabin fever has been lifted. There are things you could have done that are obvious now, but weren't before your outdoor adventure. And then you look out the window again. With a clearer mind and fresh perspective, it becomes almost embarrassingly clear that the footprints you left in the snow not only didn't lead you anywhere, but that there are several places in clear view that you could have gone! And yet...the time you spent THEN making those footprints helped guide you NOW to see the view, and your experiences, differently. Maybe doing all those things you could have, or should have, done before you got cabin fever and made those fresh steps in the snow would have robbed you of the need to make that unrelated, yet enjoyable, walk in the snow (ie, the courses you wrote papers for and learned from, but didn't relate to your dissertation). Maybe doing those unrelated 'things' - those odds and ends that seem to have no direct link to the real focus - end up being the secret ingredients in a recipe. Maybe those secret ingredients make a lentil soup lover out of someone who previously despised lentil soup. And maybe your seeing those footprints that lead to no-where in your signage picture is actually your realizing that life...and courses leading toward a doctoral dissertation...often take the same convoluted route as Billy in the Bil Keane Family Circus comic strip. While Billy often makes lots of unnecessary detours along the way, look at the life he enjoys and the knowledge he gains about his world while he's traveling.

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