September 16, 2006

That's what I like about you

I've been reading a lot of negative comments here and elsewhere about the supposed negative tone in the area. There's evidently not enough vapid cheerleaders trying to help convince us that we should bless our stars for the latest development or concrete monstrosity and the people responsible for some people's taste. I guess we're just not sufficiently grateful, darn it all.

So, being ever so sensitive to offending the delicate sensibilities of elected leaders and civic pooh-bahs who initiate (and usually profit in some way from) these projects, I thought I'd spread around a little sunshine and encourage readers to list things that they like about the area.

Surely these folk's pet projects will show up on people's lists.

I'll start.
(in no particular order)

1. Ben Butterworth Parkway. River access for everyone, and until recently, pretty well tended and maintained. A real treasure.

2. Ravines. I just like ravines, though going into most of them in town is like threading your way through a garbage dump, unfortunately. But ravines ensure that a lot of homes are near wooded areas, and that there's streams (where they're not replaced by concrete pipe) and a place for wildlife in the town.

3. Parks. Riverside park has a nice mix of Little League fields, a newish water park, and the historic and beautiful Riverside Cemetery, as well as the lagoon to fish in in summer and skate on in winter. Longview is simply lovely, and has an outstanding water park now, Overlook park in Davenport boasts one of the best views for hundreds of miles along the river, Fedjuary Park is a treasure of rolling hills and old oaks, and Vandevere is a lovely place full of history. Scott County park is really a great spot as well, offering many activities and a beautiful natural setting. And Lake George and Loud Thunder is a great asset to those who take advantage of it as well. Then there's Illiniwek with it's awesome sledding hill and riverfront access, Black Hawk park, and many other lovely spots tucked around the area.

And I should include the Music Guild into this category, truly great thing about the area. It's been going forever on nothing but volunteer effort, and it's in a gorgeous and unique setting, which of course, adjoins another outstanding and old park with it's unique and historic two story lakeside shelter,Moline's Prospect Park, which was recently rehabed by the city.

And in order to keep this list to an even 10, I'll slap John O'Donnell stadium here too, for it's history and location, and the pleasant night at the ball park it's provided to thousands, though the recent change of ownership and makeover certainly had a jarring affect on the atmoshere.

4. Jim's Rib Haven, Whitey's Ice Cream, and Boetje's mustard.

5. The Deere Administration building and it's grounds. A garden of Eden like oasis of near perfect landscaping and the awe-inspiring architecture of Eero Saarinen.

6. The PTA, Dad's Club, Little League, etc. There's something great about busy parents who volunteer and give of their time and effort to help their kids and the schools they attend. A lot of area parents devote a lot of time to making the school experience better for all kids. Same goes for Dads (and Moms) who devote countless hours to coaching kid's sports. And I should mention crossing guards at grade schools too.

7. The people. People ae generally nice and helpful. (see number 6) Though I have to admit that it seems that people are getting more distant and not quite as neighborly as time progresses. This is likely due in large part to changes in society in general and other factors too numerous to go into here. But I think it's safe to say that people are generally more genuine and friendly here than other regions of the country. The area also is home to many bright, creative, active, and interesting people, if you're lucky enough to run into some, though they apparently keep a very low profile.

8. Leaf sucker-uppers. Though they're often late, or skip streets altogether, all in all, a great service. What's not to like?

9. Tons of events all summer long. Almost over-kill to the point where some worthy events suffer from the competition, but nonetheless, there's so much to do for those who enjoy such things. Not a weekend goes by without at least one or two events happening. And fireworks.... there's lots of firework displays in the area, not just on the 4th, but all summer. And of course, parades. Labor Day, homecomings, and Halloween. And ethnic events, fiestas, Native American Pow-wows, Greek fest, and many more.

10. The rivers. They are really the crown jewels of the area.

And one amazingly energetic and stunningly effective and sucessful group has done wonders to capitalize on the interaction and mutual dependence betweeen the area an the Mississippi and both educate residents about them as well as open up more public access to the river, and that's River Action, Inc.

They're not high profile, and though they've been ambitious, they've accomplished nearly everything they've set out to do. They're contribution to both beautifying the area, helping the environment by preventing run off and establishing and rehabilitating marsh and wetlands, have established and constantly expanded the fantastic local network of bike/hike trails until they stretch miles on both sides of the river.

Not to mention their coming up with the idea, getting it off the ground and actually expanding the Channel Cat river taxi service, another great thing about the area. The Channel Cat allows anyone to cross the river and visit any number of spots without having to drive, as well as providing a relaxing and scenic trip. And of course, River Action organizes and puts on the wonderful annual Father's Day bike ride as well.

River Action is one definitely one of the most accomplished and important civic groups in the area and most definitely a "good thing".

So, what's your favorite things about the area, huh? I'm sure I left off a lot. What did I miss?


At 9/16/2006 8:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the QC Music guild area and parking the way it is right now.

I join with the neighbors who oppose the park and the Board plan to raze some of the most wonderful trees in the block for more -- ughh -- concrete and asphalt parking.... Comon guys - this is NOT the cinemas! It's community theater and doesn't need corporate expansion! Wake up and leave a good thing alone please!!

At 9/16/2006 8:17 AM, Anonymous IHG said...

Dope, there are plenty of wonderful things about the area, fine. However, you deserve nothing but credit for your post on the library. The waste, the lack of attention to the taxpayer dollars was well chronicled and a worthwhile effort. Thank you!

At 9/16/2006 3:10 PM, Blogger nicodemus said...

1. Country Style Ice Cream is by far my favorite. The vanilla is to die for and ya just can't it anywhere else except in the QC. Do they still just have just the 2 locations? (Nothing against Whiteys, we all scream for ice cream)

2. Pizza & Subs Calzones.

3. The Source Used Bookstore, in downtown Davenport

I know the first two makes me sound like some kind of a glutton, but it's been a few years since I lived there. The stuff I used to do probably isn't there anymore and whenever I come back I always notice how much cleaner it is and how there is more stuff to do than there was in 1991 when I moved.

Your #7 sparked my curiosity - about societal changes that makes people more alienated. The next time you're in the mood to write a long blog, why don't you explore that one? It reminds me of that book Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam

At 9/16/2006 9:24 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

A few excellent choices that I overlooked.

And "Bowling Alone" is a book I've always wanted to read. I recall when it came out it got quite a bit of attention and I saw the author discuss it on C-Span I think.

I really should make it a point to read it, as you're correct, the subtle changes in society are often overlooked and rarely examined, yet everyone can see it happening, slowly but surely.

I think a large part of it has to do with the way commercialization is happening. Mall culture, everything homogenized from coast to coast, little local identity, and the constant drumbeat of fear from the media, from the disease of the week to daily breathless exposes about the very worst and most dangerous elements of society that are plastered all over until everyone is afraid to stick their head out their front door anymore, and everyone is suspicious of everyone else.

Hell, you can't even take pictures of your own kids at a park anymore without worrying that someone will think you're a pedophile and call the cops. And God forbid if you smile and say something friendly to a child who is not your own.

A good subject indeed, though a large one. I'll certainly keep it in mind.

At 9/20/2006 12:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about the effort of Chad Pregracke and his crew. All the work he and his crew have done to preserve the river and raise awareness for the importance of healthy streams in this area. (and nationwide as well) I was a college roomate of Chad's when this concept was hatched and it's truly amazing what this effort has become. A QC success story no doubt and a true grassroots effort we can all be proud of.

At 9/20/2006 3:29 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Very true, Pregracke is indeed a remarkable guy. His drive and determination to attempt to undo or at least keep up with the rampant abuse of the river as some sort of public dump is worthy of high praise.

First of all, it was admirable that Pregracke would spend his own time and hard labor to try to clean the river banks, but he's done a fine job of leveraging the attention he's gotten into a large and growing organization which is having a large impact on rivers and waterways.

His Living Lands and Waters organization is a rare example of an enviromnental group actually achieving support and success in an area that is usually notably indiferent to such things.

I did think of Pregracke in composing my list, but since he's branched out to a nationwide scale, I'm not sure he's purely Quad Cities anymore, which of course, is for the better.

At 9/20/2006 7:04 AM, Blogger Dave Barrett said...

I love the bike trails along the Missippi and Rock rivers and along Duck Creek. I like how governments and groups in the area are continuing to improve and extend them.
I like the Channel Cat water taxi and the plans for bike lanes on the bridges being planned and built.

At 9/20/2006 9:10 AM, Blogger Socialist Christian Hippie said...

Let's see:

1. The Quad Cities are CHEAP. Hard to find lower cost living.

2. Great Public Radio. I've lived and traveled to many different places, and few have access to 4 great, different public radio stations. Actually, I've eeked out 5 from time to time.
Given the misery that is commercial radio now (KFMH would've been on my list, if it still existed)

3. Genesius Guild. It's FREE usually has more quality repetoire than that other guild, and does theater the classic way...outside!
(though, I like that other guild too. Used to like it more in the 80s when the shows were more recent and cutting edge. Assasins? Sunday in the Park with George? Chess? Batboy? anyone?

4. The Prenzie Players. Another great theater group. What am I saying. The best theater group in the QCs, probably the best for some distance, but I don't get to a lot of theater outside of the QCs

5. The River, and all that goes with it. (polluting industry excepted)

6. The Java Club/Country Style Malts/Happy Joes Bar b que pizza/Grinders

7. Opera Quad Cities/Ballet Quad Cities

8. Augustana College. Beautiful Campus. Wonderful performances. Decent library.

9. Stuff for kids to do.

10. did I mention it was cheap! I know all sorts of cool people who would have left ages ago...but it costs so little to live here. Don't have to work too hard. Slacker paradise.

At 9/20/2006 12:41 PM, Blogger tiz said...

Lock and Dam 14 in Leclaire
Sneaky Pete's
Ben Butterworth Parkway
Wharton Field House
Sylvan Slough
Soule Bowl
Village Inn on 53rd Street in Moline
Blue Cat Brew Pub
Pat McGuire's
Bix 7
VanderVeer Park
Comedy Sportz

At 9/20/2006 1:50 PM, Blogger illinidem said...

1. Blackhawk College and Western Illinois University’s QC Campus provide affordable high quality education and helps keep kids around the area.
2. There are more inexpensive and high quality golf courses in this area than almost any where else. We are consistently ranked in the upper echelon of golf friendly communities in the area.
3. More high quality dining opportunities than ever. The Faithful Pilot, Centro, Sevitri’s and Red Crowe Grill (among others) provide metropolitan dining choices here in the QC’s.

As far as society becoming more alienated, you see that more and more. I think it has to do with advanes in technology as well. Cell phones, instant messaging, I-Pods and other devices take away the need to interact with those around us. Why talk to the person next to me when I can text message my college room mate 2,000 miles away?


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