Friday, March 25, 2011

food, not stuff.

we have this albatross of a mall downtown owned by westfield and it's basically suffering from disinvestment. westfield has a bigger, shinier mall in another neighborhood and they’ve been rather negligent in their management of the downtown property. aside from macy’s, the gap, and a few other random stores, the basic vibe is that of a broke-down swap-meet. there’s been all kinds of jibber jabber about what to do with the mall. well, here's an idea. let’s use the space to provide a consumer good we actually need: food.

food, not stuff.

the sad downtown mall should be turned into an awesome food and art center. let’s make the grande dame of california farmers markets! and let’s include local grocers and specialty items: wine, bacon, artisanal cheeses. if a reasonable effort to include organic and sustainable entities is made, all the better. and let's focus on the arts, too.

Come for the food. Stay for the art.
Come for the art. Stay for the food.

culinary schools could set up satellite campuses.
local chefs could lead workshops for the general population.
a few *real* restaurants would be a good idea (sorry johnny rocket).
add relevant retail experiences like williams sonoma  and sur la table.
consider a childcare center—parents could pick up their kids and dinner.

keep the movie theatre.
add some art galleries.
dedicate a few of the gallery spaces to provide a space for local, emerging talent to exhibit and sell artwork. specific gallery spaces should be reserved for local school districts, and college/university art programs as well.

this is the kind of hub that makes a city world class, first class, mr. mayor. just sayin’. please consider, if you will, the following world class, first class cities and their lovely farmers market oriented food hubs:

in spain, la boqueria
in los angeles, the farmers market
in sf, ferry plaza farmers market
in seattle, pike place market
and on an' on.

forbes came out with a silly little miserable-places-to-live-list, and placed sacramento at number 5.  local folks wrote in to the sac bee and the news and review, and i was really touched by how much we actually like living here-- and you know what one of the common threads was in that diverse and random defense of sacramento? how much everyone loves the good real food and farmers markets. i mean, like, we have really good real food. all that good food that everybody else in the rest of the state and country is noshin' on-- we *grow* that food. right here.

last fall, there was a great article in the new york times about local art star and soul man wayne thiebaud. a former student of thiebaud's recalled how on the first day of class, he told everyone to get out a pencil and paper. the students were very excited, the great thiebaud was going to tell them where to get the best art supplies or dispense with amazing advice on painting...but instead, he started to tell the students where they could find the best salami and the crispest apples. here's a snippet from "sweet home california" by particia leigh brown:

...professor [thiebaud] was sharing more than a shopping list. "he was giving his students direct insights into the very subject matter that was inspiring his own art; the frosted cakes, cream pies, lollipops and the trays of herring and sardines he was transforming, through the skilled application of paint onto canvas, into the most tactile and sensuous visual compositions imaginable."

yes, indeed sister brown. we have some good food, and it is inspiring. we love it.  let's not take this part of our local legacy lightly.

we should capitalize on food.
food, not stuff.*

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