Another Architecture

by Mitch McEwen

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    Are you from West Virginia?

    Mitch McEwen
    Oct 16, '21 4:04 PM EST

    My grandmother was born in West Virginia.  She died last year (not of covid?) almost 100 years old, after many decades of retirement life in Columbus Georgia, a place for comfortable military widows, which she was, in her way.  She retired from being a Washingtonian.

    Becoming a Washingtonian was, itself, a career.  She earned some kind of recruitment to work in the US Treasury (as a typist?) by being valedictorian of her (must have been all Black) high school in West Virginia. 

    I didn't know much about her childhood in West Virginia until she was so old that people could talk about her.  Her mother died when she was 5.  Her early memories of her mother were mostly cleaning alongside her.  As a pseudo-orphan in the late 1920s she (lived and?) worked in a restaurant run by one of her father's new girlfriends.  This, I now vaguely understand, was so terrible that no one can say anything about it.

    She left West Virginia because it was not a place that allowed her to be a child. She left to become someone who could throw herself lavish birthday parties and call my granddad Honey, as if it were a name. 

    Because she left I am the kind of person who can design speculative floating swamp towers and teach with robots. 

    Because she left I know nothing about West Virginia and have no family there.  But this is not an accident.  This is how trauma works.  It erases.

    If you are from West Virginia please call your senator and tell him to stop this madness.  Maybe you are like my grandmother.  Maybe you left and do not think of it ever, as if it never had anything to do with you.  But democracy is counting on you, and the planet is counting on you.  Please go back, for 30 seconds.   


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Posts are sporadic. Topics span architecture, urban design, planning, and tangents from these. I sometimes include excerpts of academic articles.

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