Monday, May 19, 2008

. . . pondered economic realities

Digital collage created in Picasa

I read in the paper this morning that 56% of economists believe the United States is in a recession. Everyone knows that times are difficult for many people, especially for those in what used to be the middle class. For those of us of a certain age, it's not anything new. We have lived through tough times before and probably will again. Obviously it's more fun when there's more money to spend (like for art or groceries.) You hang on, change your lifestyle, do whatever it takes to make it through the cycle, assuming that good times will come again. They usually do.

My friend Mike is doing what it takes: he lost his lease on his office in a beautiful restored old building downtown when a collection agency expanded and exercised its option on his space. That is an interesting fact in and of itself. Mike had little more than 30 days to find an alternative space. Now, everyone knows around here that downtown is where it's happening these days. And everyone knows that the suburbs are dull and artistically devoid of any merit. So Mike, being in a somewhat creative line of work, worried about losing clients if he moved closer to home. However, after working the numbers, Mike moved to his new office space over the weekend, less than a mile from home. He will save 1% of his income right off the bat, because he will no longer have to pay the city earnings tax. The savings in gasoline costs will be significant, and his commute time will be less than five minutes with little traffic.

Cheap gas was one of the major factors in the growth of the suburbs. Perhaps the high cost of gas will now generate yet another lifestyle, where, like Mike, you can work where you live and live where you work. Perhaps the concept of a small town will regenerate. I hope so.

You will ask, what does this have to do with art? Well, Mike has asked me to provide the art for his new space, which of course I will be happy to do. He was the person who arrange for my first showing in the Crossroad District downtown, which was so successful. I owe him for his continuing support and encouragement.


Martha Marshall said...

Many of the small changes we've made in our household are permanent ones, and are things we won't miss -- like all those trips to the supermarket. And sadly for my hairdresser, I've figured out home hair color!

Maybe these tough times will cause us to be more selective about how we spend our resources. I have a feeling they could be changes for the better.

Congratulations on that commission! What fun.

Mary Buek said...

Martha, you know, spending $40 on gas and getting half a tank is sobering. And I have a little car. I remember when I was a kid, we could put $1 of gas in the old VW and drag main all night, and still have some gas left over at the end of the night. Oh, that does sound rather "grandmotherish", doesn't it?