The Palace of Malice

On February 7, 2008 the Los Alamos County Council voted to destroy the physical symbol of the Independence of Los Alamos.

On December 21, 2010 5 Members of the Los Alamos County Council, 2 of whom voted in the affirmative in the above cited action, voted to destroy the liberties and rights of the citizens of Los Alamos and to vacate the Charter which was the codification of the Independence of Los Alamos.

The Palace of Malice, akin to Nero's Golden Palace and destined to become home to Ozymandius, will be built upon a foundation of legal chicanery, ruthless manipulation, self-aggrandizement, wanton destruction, and the wholesale abuse of Public Trust and authority --- but at what cost, and borne by whom?

Reality Check -- No community of any size can long survive the destruction of its heritage, the dissolution of its freedoms, and the permanent division of its citizens.

Monday, April 5, 2010

6) The Neighborhood

Oncemponcem time Los Alamos was a congenial little town of neighborhoods -- Eastern Community/Downtown, Western Community, and Northern Community. Each had its own shopping "center" with a market, pharmacy/general merchandise, and full auto service -- food, drugs, miscellaneous, and transportation, all the neccessities of Life. Each also had its own elementary school - Canyon (Eastern/Downtown) and Mesa (Western). Northern Community was the largest so it had 3 : Aspen served the section south of Diamond, Mountain served the section west and north of Diamond from Sycamore to 38th, and Pajarito served the north side of Diamond from 38th to Club Rd.

This worked out pretty well -- it created a cohesion of social community within the neighborhoods, strengthening bonds of friendship and familiarty. Your social life revolved around where you lived, not where you worked.

The community cohesion was a layered hierarchy from the ground up:
First, and the primary foundational layer, was the street on which you lived. These were the folks you knew best and the kids your kids played with most often.
Second came the elementary school neighborhood. These were the folks your kids went to school with -- you knew them through PTA, and various school events. When your kids were old enough for The Bike, their circle of friends grew and your circle of social network grew.
Third came the shopping neighborhood. These were the folks you were most likely to see on at least a weekly basis.
Fourth, was the Town. You couldn't get everything you wanted in your local center. Downtown was principally those businesses which carried Everything Else.
Fifth was Entertainment/Recreation. This was scattered all over town. The Movie Theater was in Downtown, the Civic Auditorium was in Western Community, the Golf Course was
in Northern Community. Restaurants and diners could be found in every Community.
Sixth was the broadest layer: The Fairgrounds on North Mesa, the Reservoir, Sawyers Hill, Pajarito Mountain, and Camp May.

This layered approach, each layer being the foundation for the next, building a cohesive community, was mirrored in the lives of the children.

Kids transported themselves to school - a habit begun at an early age which continued on thereby creating increasing levels of independence and responsibility as they got older. At the youngest age, when Mommy and Daddy pretty much provided your every need, you walked to school until you were old enough for The Bike -- for which you actually needed a license proving that you knew the basic rules of the road and safety and without which you were confined to the sidewalk. Obtaining that license was a rite of passage -- you were old enough, and responsible enough, to ride in the street Then you rode your bike to school, to the store, to everywhere. You were also now old enough to start earning the money for some of your interests - money for Bike maintenance and accessories (a major component of your young budget), for Mother's Day gifts (from the local drugstore), for fishing accessories when you rode your bike to the Reservoir, for the special matinee at the movie, for snacks and other miscellaneous. You started finding a variety of ways to earn that money -- lemonade stands, home grown circuses, helping out the old folks in the neighborhood with gardening needs -- until you were old enough for The Car. Now you really could go every where and you also had to pay for it -- which usually took some kind of part-time job. Yes, kids actually had jobs and actually worked for their spending money -- imagine that.

These layers of social interaction and responsibility created a cohesive community which had absolutely nothing to do with, and was totally separate from, The Lab. The Lab was merely where you worked. Los Alamos was where you Lived, Played, Socialized. But as mentioned before, the point of The Independence of Los Alamos was to create an independent Los Alamos.

Reality Check: The best way to totally and radically alter a society is to undermine the society as it is by un-doing its foundations. This is akin to flattening buildings for the purpose of "re-development" only on a much more fundamental and socially insidious level.

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