Monday, September 19, 2005

New Haven, the city that everyone loves to hate…

A city that suffers tremendously because it does not look fresh and honest. Because it spiraled through a period of economic decline and continues to cope with high rates of unemployment.

New Haven, visited by most because of Yale, hated by most because of its non-Yale aspects. Those same types that dis Yale for being resource-heavy even as the community remains resource-poor, manage to take advantage of Yale because of all that it does for them, at the same time that they look critically at at the community that would stand to benefit from their largess and I don't mean only in terms of money.

In fact, New Haven is as fascinating as any city on the Northeast corridor. And at its core, it is a city that will talk to you. Encountering New Havenites is easy – they engage you in taxi cabs, at the cleaners, at the distant supermarket. They ask who you’re buying for and what you’re doing here. They tell you how the best pictures for your walls come from free dated calendars (my encounter today) and they help you lift things when you’re struggling.

Yale and New Haven are linked in profound ways. The community recognizes, much more than us, the idle visitors do, how much its future depends on Yale’s success. Even the homeless person will tell you that there is a lot to be grateful for in this tight relationship. It is clear as hell that the city would become a burnt-out shell (case in point: Bridgeport CT) were it not for the presence of the university, even as every advocacy group would tell you that so much more needs to be done to revitalize this place.

Scenes from Yale are indeed pretty scenes. Academically strong, it is filled with images of what it means to be committed to your studies.

NYC - NHaven Sep 05 012 Atticus Coffee Shop

NYC - NHaven Sep 05 016 Maya Lyn's plate, dedicated to the first (and all subsequent) female scholars, including, I suppose, this one;

NYC - NHaven Sep 05 014 in between those gothic-like halls

NYC - NHaven Sep 05 021 "Koffee?" - a place to get serious about baked goods (me), or your work (them);

And there is the good life here for those who can afford it. Last night I ate this – it cost me $8, more than a vast majority from the neighborhood could afford, less than what I would pay back in Madison for a comparable appetizer.

NYC - NHaven Sep 05 007 Roomba Restaurant

New Haven. The city that always manages to teach me something. The city I love to visit and walk in, over and beyond the “confines” of the university, the city with bigger problems than any one town should be required to handle. How it manages to be so generous to the outsider is beyond me, but it does and I am drawn to it again and again, for its generosity of spirit in spite of the huge burden of its poverty.

NYC - NHaven Sep 05 020
(the other side of New Haven)