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Street Talk

Reading Should Top Summer To-Do List


Summer just tipped over the imagined halfway mark with the Fourth of July.  It is not the real back half of summer (that actually begins on August 2), but with school starting in slightly more than a month, it seems that way. And while teachers may not be thrilled, lots of parents are looking  forward to yellow busses rolling on Main Street soon. And maybe in the meantime, one of the best things kids can do, other than wish for a city swimming pool, is find a cool spot and read. 

The Blackmur Memorial Library is holding its Summer Library Series for kids in kindergarten up to sixth grade. The series is scheduled from 9 to 11 a.m. on July 12, 19, and 26th. There will be story time, crafts, snacks, and activities. Visit the library, it is a good place.

Play ball, ride a bike (good sidewalks and safe streets needed), go to a park (Baker, City, Railroad) are all great things to do if you’re a kid this summer in the Valley. My personal opinion the best thing you can do if you’re a kid is read the summer through. Sure, reading is the best way to learn and is a skill that you’ll need your whole life. But as a kid, you don’t care.  

Here’s the short-term upside to burying your face in a book; you can usually pick your own topic, your parents love it because you are quiet, and it is a lot easier to put the squeeze on them for a shake or float or purple cow if they think you have been studious. For that purple cow, go to Turnages, it’s a transcendental experience. 

Part of summer is about small personal spaces of light and time, because of the longer days, where holding a bit of daylight for yourself seems so luxurious. So, an early morning read with a coffee or a late afternoon one with a cold drink seems an earned reward. So, far this summer two books I’ve read are relative to Main Street. 

I should say one of the books is a re-read. Ray Oldenburg’s “The Great Good Place” was published in 1989. It is a book I won’t loan out. It’s an essential read and re-read for those who wish to build communities or just make the places where people like to hang out. It is a book on the how informal places make public life desirable and lead to a healthier, in all senses of the word, place to live. His “third place” concept is the key to making a town a desirable space to live.

Published this spring is Richard Rothstein’s “The Color of Law.” Many books will seem dated a decade or two after their release, I have a feeling this one won’t. It is a very systematic historic recounting of the laws that govern housing in America and how those laws have had an overt and direct bias. How that now illegal bias still remains in practices and social customs in housing. 

And how those laws have shaped our cities and towns, and in the process determined the economic futures of many. If you’re a banker or real estate person or city planner or simply interested in a should not be forgotten, but a still very relevant history, the book is a must read.

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