Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

The People’s Clubhouse

With a little time off for the holidays, I have decided to take it easy with the posts. I would talk about Mike Leach, but I don’t like getting into politics. Besides, R. Kelly has already written the seminal work about being trapped in the closet.

However, there is a local — mostly historical — subject that has been itching my brain for some time now: Lubbock County precinct clubhouses.

Precinct clubhouses are county-owned buildings that are available for community use for a nominal fee. They usually have a kitchen, bathrooms, and a nice open room or two — perfect for club meetings, community gatherings, and small-to-medium-size events. Each clubhouse has a paid caretaker, employed part-time by Lubbock County, who handles scheduling and makes sure the clubhouse runs smoothly.

Roosevelt, Slaton, Idalou, Shallowater, Wolfforth, and New Deal: these are the current locations of precinct clubhouses maintained by Lubbock County. Readers will no doubt notice one glaring omission — there is no precinct clubhouse in the Lubbock city limits.

We used to have one precinct clubhouse in the Lubbock city limits. It was near 50th and Slide Rd (5012 50th St), next to a McDonald’s for a long time. I fondly remember playing in chess tournaments there as a kid. Sometime in the 1990s, Lubbock County sold the land that the clubhouse was on. It was demolished, and another building exists there now.

I don’t know why the precinct clubhouse in Lubbock was sold. Perhaps it was a territorial issue with the city of Lubbock, perhaps it was done to save money by a penny-pinching Commissioners Court, or perhaps it was for some other reason entirely. Whatever the reason, I think that eliminating a precinct clubhouse was a mistake.

I believe we need many more precinct clubhouses, mostly within the Lubbock city limits. A precinct clubhouse provides a safe place for clubs and groups to meet and creates community pride and “neighborhood-ness” where they might not otherwise exist. They could be places for kids to go after school or in the summer; they could be used to promote the arts and as a venue for charity events. Lubbock County citizens would get a real quality of life boost for a modest investment of taxpayer money.

Thanks to Mandy Reeves at Lubbock County for answering my questions over the phone regarding the history of precinct clubhouses.

Neugebauer Town Hall Trip Report: Part 1

Except for the couple of jerks who insulted my girlfriend, the Randy Neugebauer town hall was very civil — not like the clips of town halls crashed by right-wing shouters or poster-rippers. It was an hour and a half of brisk Q+A from audience members lined up at 2 mics. People mostly showed how they felt by clapping/cheering or remaining silent, though there was some whooping and hollering now and then. One dude with an opposite view from mine took the time to shake my hand afterward to thank my friends and me for being decent, and I said the same to him. That was a very nice moment.

The Congressman’s staff were very pleasant and helpful as usual.

Oh, but there was the one gentleman who, during his turn at the mic, literally said, “When you’ve got a coon up a tree, bark!” in reference to the President. A very unfortunate choice of words at the least. A fellow Lubbock blogger I met at the town hall chronicled this line (and the event in general) very well.

It will take me several posts to present all the material from the town hall. A friend of mine took video of most of it, which we will clean up, put on YouTube, and link here. In the meantime, the hilarious-but-tired GOP health care chart (scary! confusing! colors! ugly fonts! boo!) made another appearance in giant poster and handout form.

Local media coverage of the town hall meeting was OK, though the number of people at the meeting varied widely among different media outlets. I’ll say that the hall was packed to standing-room-only, and there were 1,000 chairs in the room. Also, certain media outlets (KAMC and KLBK, for example) did not acknowledge that the questions were basically evenly divided between those who were in favor of a public option (or other health care reform at the federal level), those who were against, and those who had other things to talk about. To lump people into broad categories, there may have been more “conservatives” in attendance, but the questions and comments were hardly dominated by “conservative” opinions.

I did come to the conclusion that our Congressman is sucking up to the we-hate-government wing of his Party’s base. The person who introduced Congressman Neugebauer was from AFIIG, and Randy spent a whole lot of time painting our government as a boogeyman.

At any rate, I’ll soon post links to video of basically the whole event, so you can see for yourself. For now, here are a few pictures I’ve received from friends-with-cameras so far:

Some friends arriving early to get good seats by the mics.

Dana Neugebauer visits with LCRP Precinct 47 Chair Mikel Ward.

The hall starts to fill up.

More tomorrow!

And oh dear, as I am about to post this, I just saw news that Senator Ted Kennedy has died:

RIP “The Lion of the Senate”

Lubbock is a Suburb of Itself

I’ve been thinking about the idea of community lately, especially as it relates to Lubbock.

Community can mean lots of things. The sense of community I’m thinking about today is city-sized: the community of Plainview, the community of Lubbock, the community of Austin, the community of Dallas, and so forth. The sense of community I’m thinking of today can tell us how two complete strangers might interact when they meet each other for the first time, if the odds favor them meeting at all.

Lubbock is my hometown, and I enjoy living here. However, I have some concerns about how Lubbock has grown over its 100 years — obstacles that hinder us when it comes to growing as a community-at-large.

First, cars. Lubbock is a city designed from the ground up for the automobile age. We pass strangers all day long in our cars and never know who is sitting behind steel and glass a few feet from us. Because of this, we are missing out on the very basic community knowledge of who lives here. We tend to think Lubbock is populated only with the people we meet at our destinations, which are usually self-selected. Contrast this to a city like New York or Chicago, where one can see all sorts of people on the train, the bus, the street.

Second, space. Part of living in a city built for the automobile age is that our buildings are far apart to accommodate our wide streets. Even residential streets in Lubbock are bigger than business thoroughfares in many cities. Every extra yard between your house and the one across the street makes it less likely that you will ever meet your neighbors.

(There is a positive side to the wide open space, captured beautifully by Molly Ivins: “Once you have been to Lubbock, it feels like freedom and everywhere else feels like jail.”)

Third, residential construction. Lubbock has primarily single-family dwellings, spaced farther apart as you get farther from downtown. Most Lubbock residents will never meet their neighbors in the stairwell or common yard because we don’t tend to have those things.

My point is that these factors make it harder for us to find common cause with those geographically near us, and therefore it is more difficult for Lubbock citizens to organize.

(Lubbock is also a conservative’s paradise for the same reasons. Everyone knows that urban areas tend to be more liberal/progressive than rural areas, but I think it’s a little more complicated than that. I think that the places in which people encounter the most strangers are the most liberal, and the places where people never have to meet anyone new tend to be the most conservative.)

However, Lubbock is not totally adrift as a suburb of itself; some neighborhoods have figured out how to organize in spite of our area’s obstacles. For instance, Heart of Lubbock has a very organized neighborhood association. South Overton, Tech Terrace, and Guadalupe also come to mind as examples of well-organized neighborhoods.

Furthermore, I am hopeful that our isolated/insular community-at-large will improve because of the age we live in. With President Obama as an organizer-in-chief, maybe our detached, separated situation will change for the better. Also, now we can find each other on the internet, which can reconnect us face-to-face. Those of us concerned about our community detachment can find each other online and work together to do something about it offline.


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