But sometimes, when done is done, it’s good to set aside the big picture for a few moments and just be silly.

The older you get, the more important it is to be goofy once in a while.

It helps me take myself a little less seriously. Makes me happy, too.

So yesterday, while walking up and down Broadway Avenue in downtown Fargo, N.D., I did, in the new Broadway Square.

Broadway Square is a small patch of community space next to the newly constructed Block 9 / RDO Building on the east side of the street. The brand-new, 18-story structure includes office and retail space, a restaurant, a bar and seven condominiums on the upper floor. The top floor is one big penthouse, reportedly valued at around $7 million.

I’ve voiced my distaste for the building since before construction began, when it was still called the Block 9 Project, for several reasons, such as:

  • Despite what most people in the pro-business and anti-environment crowds will tell you, all growth is not good, and growth (construction) for growth’s sake can no longer be a defining aspect of progress.
  • The project cost Fargoans $15.5 million in tax exemptions.
  • Construction and maintenance of large buildings add more CO2 to the atmosphere.
  • I believe this particular building contributes mightily to the gentrification of our downtown.
  • It clashes with the brick facades and overall downtown aesthetic. In fact, it looks like a sore, shiny-condom-wrapped thumb sticking up amongst its neighbors.
  • The building lumbers over the other buildings, blocking out all morning sunshine from the avenue and shops on the west side of the street.
  • I suspect that one of the real purposes for its development and construction was to provide North Dakota’s current governor and multimillionaire Republican Doug Burgum that self-same penthouse, higher in the sky than anyone else in the state. After all, his company, The Kilbourne Group, was one of the two primary developers.

So, yeah, overall not a fan, not of this building or of other projects purported to represent the old definition of “progress.” We need a better definition, one more suited to the realities of the climate crisis and its already devastating consequences.

Peter Sutoris, PhD, an anthropologist of development and the environment, says we need to move away from the historical mindsets of consumption and “extractivism,” and that dealing with the climate crisis depends on “changing the collective mindset” to “humility and connectedness, rather than vanity and individuality.” Couldn’t agree more.

Vanity. If this building says anything at all, that’s it.

But at this point it is what it is. Done is done. Unfortunately, we often have to work to change the system that needs changing from within it.

At least the developers have thrown us pleebs a not-all-bad bone or two, like Broadway Square, which is managed by the Fargo Park District. It’s tiny for a community space, but there’s a stage/bandshell, a patch of turf (fake, which is better than grass that needs to be watered), tables and chairs and water spouts for cooling off (terribly wasteful and the opposite of environmentally friendly). In the winter the space is turned into an ice rink.

There’s also something to be said for building up rather than out; urban sprawl is a real problem here. But then again, when it’s only for the affluent…

Last but not least in the “it’s not entirely bad” category are these quirky spinning chairs.

Hey… why not?

I took a spin. If you ever make it to Fargo, you should, too.

In the meantime, remember to take time to take yourself less seriously. Do not act your age. Set self-imposed embarrassment and social graces aside and have some fun. Smile. Laugh. It’ll do your body and mind good, and might be crucial to your ability to continue combatting the climate crisis.

Then get back to doing what you do, like fighting the good fight to slow global warming and resulting climate change.

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1 Comment

  1. Two logic errors:
    1. The economy is healthy when the stock market is doing well. Nope!
    2. In exactly the same vein, building taller buildings is no longer necessary; and never was!
    Before elevators were developed, buildings were topped out at five stories, because it’s comparable to a mile hike to climb the stairs,
    After elevators, years back, there was some advantage to taller buildings to keep a company workforce in immediate contact. That’s not nearly as necessary anymore… well, if we can get focused on beating the hackers, anyway. Now, and for a good while now, the tall building is just a phallic vanity display of rampant greed.
    Then, as you mentioned above, urban sprawl is much the same issue as overly tall buildings. We have a fixed amount of land. Each new spread of houses or other building eats up that land. And what land? Largely farm land. We have too many people already and it’s already at the point when food is getting harder to grow; see: “Global Warming”, etc.
    Our so-called “leaders” (ok, and citizens) need to wake up and smell the coffee, before the coffee trees die. (They’re heat sensitive; check it out.)
    I could write more but there’s already lots of this and more already available, written better than i can.

    Why isn’t this being taught in our schools?
    Follow the money and you’ll know who’s guilty of rampant greed,

Let me know what you think!