They’re Gonna Pave Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot

It’s not a terribly original title. We’re aware of the Joni Mitchell song that contains the same lyric…give or take. “Big Yellow Taxi” is a song that echoes the sentiment heard from our valued customers when they hear about the property owner’s plans to pave the communal park area in front of our store. It is a song about destroying something beautiful in the interest of “progress”. It was too obvious not to use. It is not the purpose of this article nor Papaya’s to judge the motive of the property owners. The motive is not the point…the motive is moot. Regardless, there are things that we can all understand from this event, an event deemed as “traumatic” by most. The first thought that comes to mind is: “Has anyone considered just how important this green space was to the community at large?” Not “anyone” as in “those who are making the decisions” but “anyone” as in “all of us”. We as a community are now faced with reconciling what this space means to us, and what life looks like in light of what is our new normal. “Don’t know what you got ’till it’s gone”: again, directly on the nose–but it is where we find ourselves…literally. Another thought: “What is progress, and is the cost of said something that can be measured?” The person who made the decision to pave over the park must be divorced from the reality of the area, either physically or intellectually. Even a casual viewer of the interaction that takes place in that space, is made aware of its significance to all of us. Every action being taken by those who are driving this so-called progress is riddled with ominous energy. Days before any noticeable work was even started, bright yellow–sickly, safety yellow–the yellow of under-interaction and over-reaction–caution tape was draped around the perimeter. It was as though the space in which we loved, lived and communed was now dangerous. “Caution! Community happens here!”, its apparent message. The value of that community was priceless, but priceless things don’t always fair well in the act of

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commerce. They are, sometimes, out of step with one another. Not on a moral level per-se…more pragmatically. Papaya’s has had a commitment over the years of integrating our culture with the culture of that little courtyard we have all lost. We have no control over what is done with that area. But what we do have–this is to mean: what we all have–is control over how we continue to live as a community inextricably bound through a commitment to healthy living. We don’t know exactly how it’ll look in the future, but we are aware of its value…