Body and SpiritThis weekend I got B and IT (and later BL) to join me at the Florida Ave Market (or Capitol City Market). The plan was to hit three or four stores to show them what was there. I forgot my shopping bag, so I didn't buy anything at the places I normally shop. B was in one of his smart-alec moods pointing out what would not appeal to yuppies. No prices on things, no clear lines, etc. He also suggested that if we wanted to save the market the historic preservation people should be brought in. I think I may have actually growled at him.
While the HP people are good at protecting the body, that is the buildings and the structures, I don't think they can preserve the spirit. The market for me is not a collection of warehouse buildings, instead they are a Hodge podge of businesses, a mix of wholesale and retail banded together, the spirit. What they are housed in to me seems fairly irrelevant. The 19th century structures that are there have attached to them squat ugly cinder block, cinder block that seems to distract the eye from the brick.
The spirit is that thing that is when you have these warehouse businesses all together in one place, some providing retail services, selling goods at a low price, in a central DC location. It is my inner libertarian screaming that if the government places some extra burden on the businesses there, be they HP regs or a 'temporary' move or rules to make residential possible, those businesses may fold, leave permanently or pass the expense on to consumers in a way that makes the market less attractive to those consumers.
Even in theological discussions with friends I have trouble defining and describing the spirit. It is a fuzzy thing that I sense and feel. I sense the energy radiating from the people working, pushing handcarts, yelling in a variety of languages. The consumers give off an international, down to business (as the market does service restaurants and other businesses), utilitarian vibe that I feel. And you have the two interacting with each other in a central DC location. If you change the type of business, you screw with the spirit. Change the type of consumers, you change the vibe. Change the location, same thing.
My fear of the city coming in and changing the area is that it will kill the spirit. New businesses would replace the old ones and those new businesses would appeal to a different type of consumer (or a different side of some consumers who do use the market).
At the end of the shopping, at Litteri's we noticed a petition on the counter. So if you'd like, stop in, by a sub or some pasta or wine and sign the petition to preserve the spirit of the market.