Sunday, October 27, 2013

County Grounds update: Discovery Parkway opens

View of Discovery Parkway looking north toward Swan Blvd.
If you live in Wauwatosa, as I do, and have been avoiding the Swan Boulevard route through the Milwaukee County Grounds because it's been closed for so long, there is now a detour through Innovation Park. The connecting road, called Discovery Parkway, between Swan and Watertown Plank was quietly opened last Monday. It will become the main thoroughfare for Innovation Park, the first two components of which are currently under construction. For a more detailed account of these developments, read the article in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel business section.

Some of my readers will remember that the construction of Discovery Parkway began with a bang last January when the land was cleared of its tree cover. (See previous post.) As promised at the time, new trees have been planted (see below). Unfortunately, more trees have recently been cut to make way for the new cloverleaf ramp that will be part of the redesigned Watertown Plank Road interchange at Highway 45.

Location of the new ramp
I visited the Grounds over the weekend and have some photos to share. In addition to the new road I was able to check in on volunteers with the Friends of the Monarch Trail who were out in force with spades and trowels. They were planting milkweed, which is an essential plant for the Monarch butterflies.

500 plugs of milkweed were planted by Friends of the Trail
South entrance to Discovery Parkway from Watertown Plank
View of Parks Administration Building from new entrance
North end of Discovery Parkway
View west across Discovery Parkway towards Eschweiler Bldgs
View east across County Grounds Park towards Milwaukee
Friends of the Monarch Trail trail marker flag
Lu Ann and Jan planting milkweed
Fred and Dan doing likewise

Barb Agnew, director of the Friends of the Monarch Trail, leads a tour of the trail and, here, one of the new biofiltration basins that will treat storm runoff.

On my way to Innovation Park, I almost stepped on this garter snake. It quickly slid off the gravel road surrounding the detention basin where I was walking. I consider it a good omen that it escaped harm.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Autumn in the Arboretum

Sadly, I was out of town for the opening of the new Rotary Centennial Arboretum last month. I would have loved to attend. I finally managed to visit yesterday. Wonderful accomplishment! Just a few moody fall shots to share.

Signage acknowledging donors - gotta to that!
The hilltop with newly planted trees
Evidence of the earth-moving equipment required to design nature
An oak seedling: the future

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Wauwatosa Common Council to act on TIF for County Grounds

The Wauwatosa Common Council is set to debate and decide this Tuesday whether or not to grant a TIF--tax incremental financing district--to support plans by the UWM Real Estate Foundation and the Mandel Group for residential development around the Eschweiler Buildings.

The importance of this decision for the fate of the beleaguered historic structures and the Monarch Trail habitat surrounding them, as well as for the development plans, has been outlined in an op-ed article in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The authors of the article are Barb Agnew and Jim Price, founders of the Monarch Trail and indefatigable supporters of habitat preservation on the County Grounds.

Click here to read "An important vote in Tosa for UWM plans."

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Photo Essay: An arroyo in Santa Fe

A Santa Fe resident, someone I met in passing, suggested I visit an arroyo to see the magnificent flowers that were currently abloom. I did. I also Googled the flower to see what it's called. I learned that the exuberant bushy flowers are Chamisa, aka Rabbitbrush. It is both native to NM and also aggressive. Apparently some people love it and others hate it.

I've been seeing it all over northern New Mexico during the past couple weeks and I've been enjoying it immensely. Here is a small selection of images from an arroyo next to the La Farge Library in Santa Fe.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The White Place

For the past week I have been staying, teaching photography, and relaxing at one of my favorite places: Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, NM. Ghost Ranch is a retreat/education/conference center owned by the Presbyterian Church but is most famous as the place where Georgia O'Keeffe lived and painted many of her striking New Mexican work. One of her subjects was this unusually pale sandstone slot canyon in Abiquiu. The gray stone can look white in the bright New Mexican sun, hence the name. The site is owned by Dar al Islam, a mosque and Islamic Education Center.

I've been in the mood to write haiku here in New Mexico, a land of contrasts and, for me, introspection. Here is the one I wrote for the White Place:

the White Place
a monk in saffron robes
raises an ipad

I am teaching a workshop in digital photography at Ghost Ranch and I took my class to the White Place for a photo shoot. As our group gathered back at the parking area after a couple hours of shooting, I saw this monk walk slowly up to the mound with the “Plaza Blanca” sign on it overlooking the site. As I watched he slowly drew an ipad out of his robes and began to raise it with both hands. Knowing the capabilities of an ipad it was obvious that he was about to shoot a photograph. However, it reminded me of a priest raising a host, or a supplicant seeking absolution, or simple praise; something sacred and holy, as befits both the symbolism of his robes and the grandeur of the site. 

The well-known form of Haiku originated in Japan and is a very short, traditionally three-line, poem. In current practice the form is flexible. The essential quality of haiku is usually a small epiphany based on the observation of two contrasting images. I was inspired by the juxtaposition of the monk’s traditional garb with the latest technology—even if upon second thought, it ought to be considered perfectly normal in today’s polyglot society. 

I had put my camera in my bag when I saw the monk raise the ipad. I would have liked to catch a shot of him raising it. Alas, that was not to be. I did introduce myself and ask if I could make a photo of him, a request to which he acceded with humility. He said his name but it was so multi-syllabic and foreign to my ears that mind unfortunately would not grasp onto it.