Michael Allen has been a passionate advocate for neighborhoods on St. Louis’ North Side for years. Sarah and I had the chance to spend an afternoon with him a few weeks ago when we were in town. In addition to having encyclopedic knowledge of virtually every building on the North Side, he maintains an inspiring hopefulness about what our cities can become, and how.
I was, of course, excited to find a recent articulation of that sentiment on his blog:
Without imagination, we couldn’t think through changing our own circumstances. Now, granted that some people have mighty fine circumstances and probably don’t want to imagine a change in the world that may benefit others. The rest of us, though, need to have the power to envision our neighborhoods and own lives improved physically, economically and spiritually. In St. Louis, imagination fuels the work of my neighbors in Old North St. Louis as much as it keeps developers like Craig Heller going. Sometimes it’s not acknowledged, and rarely gets political play, but we need imagination to make this city a better place….
Change without imagination is tantamount to continued loss of opportunities. We can’t let the technocrats plan our future through financing formulas. Without a vision — a dream — of what shape we want St. Louis to be in, we won’t be able to resist or even influence the people whose dull plans are despoiling the landscape that once was an international city.
Thanks, Michael. Keep fighting the good fight.