Stealing from Savannah (ideas)

I took a short trip to Savannah Ga thanks to a large corporation in Dayton sending my girlfriend to a conference. It wasn’t much of a vacation for me, as I just ended up working from the hotel. But, I did take a lot of walks and met a lot of people.

There are some things about Savannah that stuck with me. There seems to be a shared sense of reverie for the history of the city- and more than one local told me something to the effect that it was the biggest or oldest planned city in America.

Everywhere you turn, there is a historical marker, or a plaque saluting the original owner, builder or famous occupant of a home. They don’t tear things down, or make excuses for why old buildings can’t be suitable for modern uses. The beating heart of the city is the Savannah College of Art and Design- or SCAD. The “campus” is the entire city. Old school buildings, diners, homes, office buildings, theaters- have all found utility for this internationally known institution. Unlike Sinclair with its unapproachable, monolithic architecture that screams fall-out shelter, without looking at the signs on the buildings, you’d be hard pressed to notice any of the buildings being different from the rest. Same goes for student housing- not obvious at all.

Scooters, bicycles, sharrows, and even Segways navigate the streets and park on sidewalks- attached to bike racks that are everywhere. The community is walkable- and to make it easy for locals and guests- there are info signs and large touch-screen kiosks to help you navigate your way around. Even the trash cans (once I realized what they were) were an interesting solution- in ground- with step-on iron covers. I first spotted them in a historic cemetery (Woodland are you listening?) where an above ground trash can would look out of place. Not only do they work as trash cans (although in snow, they may be a bit problematic) they also are a solution to the threat trash cans can be – with terrorists. Paris removed all standing trash cans long ago because terrorists were putting bombs in them. These would contain and direct the blast to minimize effect- yet, not be as worthless as the hoop and plastic bag solution Paris adopted.

A street had been closed off with bollards and bike racks- it was filled with galleries and cafes- something that would be easy to do in the Oregon. We don’t have to drive absolutely everywhere.

On one of my walks I came across a statue dedicated to the people of the island now known as Haiti who fought in the American Revolution. Something my history professors left out. Considering the current situation in Haiti- it’s nice that we are repaying a bit of their contribution to our country.

There was definitely a restaurant culture in Savannah- and yet, the two places that impressed me the most were a new little Italian place called “Leocis”  that had the best wild mushroom risotto that I’ve ever had. They also served some amazing olive oil with the fresh baked bread- I’ll be hunting down some Antica Olive Oil soon. The other was the “second oldest eatery” in Savannah- the Crystal Beer Parlor – if anyone can match their lamb burger in Dayton- please let me know.

The Savannah convention and visitors bureau also threw a great party for the conference– in an old building called “Trustee’s gardens”- with food and open bar. I’ll be investigating if Dayton does anything similar.

Of course, Greg has been to Savannah as well- and we decided to have a Dayton Grassroots Daily Show talk about it- so if you are interested in video to go along- here it is:

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