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Another lost greenspace


A wild place was razed to the ground today at 41st and Barnard. This overgrown, woodsy corner was home to woodpeckers, lizards, countless birds, squirrels, possum, and as recently as December, a family of owls.

And it was w hat made living on this troubled, at times dangerous, corner bearable. Nature and wild things are hopeful and healing. To us, and the many creatures that found shelter there, it was a sacred grove.

It’s amazing what destruction a tree service can do in a few hours. We lost a mimosa that grew despite being hit by lightning, two very old pines and a mature palm that gave shelter across a six-by-six area. Our fire pit was run over and crushed by the massive tree chopper, along with all manner of flowers.

One area has been unnaturally tidied up, and now resembles a door floor – gone are the berries that robins love and the acorns. The dead trees visited by woodpeckers – gone. All along the fence line, palms of various stages of life were clear-cut.

The yard tonight looks like a crime scene, a no-man’s land. The small concrete buildings that now stand exposed look like they’ve taken their clothes off – not a pretty sight.

It’s not that I didn’t see it coming. For months, I listened to a real estate agent chatting up investors in the yard. She impressed upon them that the rent was way below market value. And walking among the Magnolias and youngish Live Oaks, she helped them vision the possibilities.

You’d just have to apply for a permit, to override some rule about the amount of greenspace. It’s a buildable lot, no question. She’s too classy to say “cash cow.” But you know the lingo that goes into the buying and selling of land.

It’s not hard to notice that every little patch of grass has a For Sale sign on it. The saddest to me, are those pinned to a lone tree in the center – it would be the first to go after it had served its purpose. Even Live Oaks are felled to make room for more luxury condos.

When I lived on Howard Street, a tree that formed the canopy for the whole block was removed because the property owner had a vision for covered parking. In one afternoon, the apartment I called the “Treehouse” lost its tree, its privacy and the shield from car-glare and heat.

I believe the felling of a tree should take into account all that are affected by it, including the urban wildlife. Are we really putting this most important of decisions in the right hands? Those that strong-arm nature to conform to a set vision, rather than working with what’s already living there?

Those that see only what the land can give them, not what they can give back to the land?

This property will soon become a mini gated-community, paved over with a few potted palms (the exotic ones) here and there and the rent will double. It could’ve been worse, and I’m grateful that this owners’ vision has made room for some trees to remain – for now.

But in a few months time, when the new occupants are sitting under a large umbrella (they’ll need one) on their patio (which is what’s planned for this formerly wild spot) within the ‘safe’ confines of an 8-ft privacy fence, they’ll never know the wild beauty that was once here.

But those of us that were inspired by its aliveness will always remember one of the last wild places around this area. And hope that all the creatures that found shelter there will find some way to survive.

Molly Hall

More musicians, please!


I am a professional cellist. Currently, I am a member for the Magellan String Quartet (in residence at Georgia Southern University), and member of the Glimmerglass Opera orchestra (Cooperstown NY). I have been traveling to Savannah from Augusta GA since 1990 in order to perform with professional Savannah-based ensembles.

Like many area professional instrumentalists, I choose to travel to Savannah for work. There are other regional organizations that cannot program orchestral repertoire without hiring “imports” like me; such is the present nature of many cities and their ability (or dedication) to sustain enough employment for musicians.

We “imports” choose to travel to Savannah over these other cities because of the Savannah-based musicians with whom we are privileged to work.

The musicians who have taken up residence in Savannah are not only supremely dedicated to the craft of their instrument and their respective role in an ensemble; they are unique, complex individuals who look beyond superficial technique and basic workplace ethic (you know, the “90% of success is just showing up” adage) that I have experienced in so many other cities.

They are reflective, interesting and articulate people who are as essential to the colors and textures of the Savannah fabric as those famous “Book” characters, fascinating American and European histories and visionary city architectures and landscapes that draw so many tourists to Savannah every year.

Whenever I travel to work in Savannah, I feel better about the ups and downs of the music business, and the world in general. Savannah is honest with itself, including all of the aspects of its history; nothing is hidden. Savannah is devoted to self-effacing intellectualism and its simultaneous pride in both the traditional and trendy.

Whenever I work in Savannah, I pick up a copy of Connect Savannah, and have been proud to see articles that pique the interests of the community (both local and tourist) in the resident performing ensembles with which I work, such as the Savannah Sinfonietta. The Savannah Sinfonietta resonates with these qualities that I associate with Savannah; The Board, administration, and instrumentalists are as interesting as the variety of venues and communities in which the organization performs.

I have been pleased to read interviews in Connect Savannah with our artistic/music director Bill Keith. However, like the complexity of the City of Savannah, I know that there are many integral and intriguing elements that make this organization what it is.

I want to pick up a copy of Connect, and read about the musicians who comprise this organization, who reveal how they are a part of the charisma and substance of Savannah. I want to read how their instrumental and personal voice in the Sinfonietta is as unique as their identity in the City of Savannah.

Maybe I will see a picture of double bassist, Steve Rickett, entertaining his Price St. neighborhood kids on his unicycle, while sharing his insights into the upcoming Sinfonietta concert or music in general.

Or, read passionate and pithy commentary in an interview with violinists Terry Moore and Ann Cafferty on Prokofieff’s expressions of irony in music and its relevance to 2008 Savannah societies.

There are many, many examples such as these; Savannah has quite a few residents for whom the phrase “musicians’ musician” was designed. Would you please find a way to include them in your articles?

Ruth Berry