I have only lived here three years and the loss of farmsteads, churches, historic mainstreet anchor buildings in our little area is a heartache. I can only imagine what is like if you've lived here your whole life and even have generational memories.
Change. Loss. No rational hope for rebuilding.
Take a look at that picture of the Good Shepherd Church-- about 10 miles out my backdoor. A lovely country church--with a congregation that endured for over 125 years. This month the church was picked up and moved away to a more populated area. Many people are happy that the building will be saved and used-- and not collapse over the years from the lack of people/use that keeps buildings alive. But it leaves another gap in the landscape. A gap where a beautiful and inspiring landmark stood as a testament to what, in my opinion, is a hallmark of our culture. That we can work together to build and sustain a place to nurture the human spirit.
Likewise, we once built monuments to business and industry. Businessmen invested in the permanence of a brick building on mainstreet. You have to believe in the future to build a brick building. I'm sorry to say that we may not even have the skilled labor, the noble stonemasons, who could even build those same buildings today. And so the two buildings that burnt to the ground on mainstreet Ortonville this month represent a loss that will never be replaced. Maybe a pole barn would go up in their place-- but the resources, skill, and belief in the future that it takes to build a landmark are not there.
Once these buildings are gone, they are gone forever.
There is a building in Clinton- a tall, two-story yellow brick building- that lives in my dreams. It lives as a completely restored dry goods, gardening, book store, coffee shop. Upstairs is a sunlit, elegant, comfortable living area -- our winter home so that the kids can go to school through the blizzards that isolate us on the prairie. I buy lottery tickets because they are my only hopes to achieving that dream. This venture is not a money maker, but a labor of love. Love and hope.
But the hope that I'll win the lottery before the building is razed is running low. The front page of Thursday's Northern Star newspaper included the city council's recommendation to raze the building because the bricks are beginning to fall and are a hazard. A race against time- will Kathy get enough money for a roof and a brick repair before the building collapses or is razed?
Last Monday, my program at the U co-hosted a talk with Nicole Foss, of Automatic Earth fame. I spent time with her following the seminar's gloomy description of what faces us in the future (economic, energy, and resource collapse). She whispered to me "You're in the right place. It will come back. It will be the soul and center of what is good, right and whole in the future." Ok- she didn't say that, but she did.
If we can just keep it together until the collapse. Until the pendulum swings back. Hope clings eternal.