out with the old

I used to have a t-shirt that said “Canadian seasons: winter and construction.” It sure seems that way this year in Saint John — everywhere you look, there’s construction. Sometimes the construction looks more like destruction. It’s hard to hold off on judging whether a project is worthwhile when you see only the mess and inconvenience. But the hardest part isn’t the chaos, it’s the letting go.

Construction projects need to start with a clean slate, which means razing whatever was there before and building a new foundation. Even home renovations require hard choices: you can’t get new stuff unless you make room by getting rid of the old stuff. While I think new building projects and renovations are exciting, I still find it hard to see landmarks disappear and beloved items go out with the trash, even if they are well past their useful life. And let’s not even get started on people!

When an old church is closed, a liturgy is held to “desanctify” it. I think we need a small but significant way to ceremoniously mark a change, and leave the past in the past. We need a way to properly say goodbye. I know I could use the practice.

Taken on May 24, 2009

2 thoughts on “out with the old

  1. Nice composition! Here in Michigan, we also have Winter & Construction seasons! As soon as the snow starts melting – up go the orange barrels, and they don’t come down until the first heavy snowfall. I work for the local Planning & Zoning Office, so we deal with the demolition & plans for new construction all the time. Some people DO have a hard time letting go. We had an old City Market that was recently demolished to make way for a new one, and MANY people were furious (even though the building was in HORRIBLE condition)! They even started a FB page to try to “save” it! The new building is beautiful and very “consumer friendly”, and I think people are slowly starting to accept it! 🙂

    • Thanks for your great comment, Holly! I guess I’m in the same camp as you, as my father was city manager here for a time, so I had a unique view into the stories of the day. I think it would be easier for everyone if we could agree on what is valuable and worth the cost of public investment when it’s still in good repair. There’s no point demonstrating against destruction at the last minute if you’ve walked by for years without noticing while it slowly falls apart.

      As for your new City Market, wait for the next generation — they are always much quicker to accept that history began the day they were born, not before!

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