Monday, December 14, 2015

American Dream: Designing Something Like the HighLine in NYC

Dreams of High-Impact Design

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

I wish I had thought of it: Convert an old, elevated railroad track through a gritty part of New York City into an elevated park.

What a great concept! Probably stolen from some other city, but executed in a grand manner here in NYC.  These shots are from July 2014, just before I went on the grandest adventure of my life (so far): a one-year creative writing sabbatical in Paris! More on that later.

Good, clean design. Unfortunately, not designed for me! I need back support!

Lush vegetation along the HighLine.

A gardener working (I want that job!) and people enjoying.

The people in this building get a bonus view.

Lovely plantings -- wait, that's not cannabis, is it? :)

Artfully placed plants -- or perhaps one of nature's serendipitous juxtapositionings.

Restful greenery and flowers in a high-density area.

A shady perch, with back support.

An extension of the HighLine in the process of being completed.

Now we go to Maplewood, NJ, to an indie bookstore called Words.

This is a great space for a writer to see, a place where people can buy books and read about another person's viewpoint. And not be so alone.

A sign in the window. A reminder for when life gets hard.

A reminder for every day. This is how the HighLine started, as a dream. "Nothing happens but we dream it first," Carl Sandburg said.
How about you? Are you dreaming about what could be? You're never too old to stop dreaming! Comment below on your dream, or on bookstores, or on the HighLine.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Dreams of Independence: Catalunya

Catalunyan Dreams of Independence

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

Catalans held their independence day while I was in Barcelona recently. Supporters of the idea of secession from Spain draped themselves in Catalan flags and showed their support every which way they could.

If you wore a pendant like this, you were for independence.

If you wore a T-shirt like this, you were for it.

For it.

There was no lack of flags, or Catalan independence spirit, that day.

A pro-independence flag against a Barcelona / Mediterranean sky.

Face paint? For it.

See the giant in the red cap? That's pure Catalunyan. He's for it.

More symbols for it.

Barcelona's iconic Agbar Tower is for it.

It's hard to convey the spirit of the crowd.

These young ladies are all for independence.

He's for it, too.

The giant farmer and mermaid were paraded for independence.

Looks like they'll live happily ever after.

He's head and shoulders above the crowd.

Have a beer in favor of independence.

He's in favor, too.

Heading toward the big demonstration, all in favor.
This guy doesn't care one way or the other.

The outcome of the vote later that month was complicated, and not at all binding on the legislature of Spain.
But you got a taste of Catalan spirit. Not everybody wants independence. Some Catalans feel that they are stronger united with Spain. The outcome of all this flag-waving and parading waits to be seen.

Monday, October 19, 2015

American -- and Maybe Everybody's -- Dream: Independence Day

The Dream of Catalunyan Independence 

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

One Catalunyan said of the upcoming referendum, "My grandfathers are singing in their graves with happiness."

If the referendum failed, it wasn't for lack of spirit and flags.

Catalunyan flags EVERYWHERE.

Bikes had 'em.

Enterprising Catalunyans made lottery tickets available at the demonstration.

The iconic Agbar Tower near the site of the demonstration.

People danced traditional folk dances. Because this was Barcelona (like any big city), they parked their bags where they could keep an eye on them while they celebrated.

You have to be on your toes to dance Catalan style.

The father is for independence. The little girl isn't sure.

This means he's for it.

These friends are for independence.

This guy doubled up for extra effect.

His head rag is for it.

These scarves are for it.

This little girl is for it. She's being lifted onto her father's shoulders, and he's all for it.

The little tyke's T-shirt means he's for it.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Catalunyan Independence I

Catalunyan Independence

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

Catalunya, the area of Spain I now live in and seek my American Dream, wanted an historic referendum on whether or not to secede from Spain. Catalunyans have a long-term distrust of Madrid and a history of rebellions put down brutally. The region creates 35% of Spain's GNP, and they want to stop the flow of tax money to Madrid. Nobody here cares a fig about the Spanish royal family. They see them as drains on the economy and a bunch of entitled, corrupt snobs.

"My grandfathers are singing in their graves," one Catalan told me. Earlier in September was the annual National Day of Catalunya. This year it was bigger because of the upcoming referendum.

Barcelona is the capital of Catalunya. Here is the Arc de Triomph with people preparing to march in favor of independence at the foot.

Flags were everywhere. This is how people showed support for indepence.

Wearing the flag of Catalunyan independence means you're in favor of it.

So does wearing these T-shirts.

This means you're in favor of it.

So does this.

This T-shirt? In favor.

Whole families got into it.

These people just wanted gelato.