putting ear – and feet – to the ground

Places and spaces.

It's what I do best. I plug in. I'm like one of those insects with the really long antenna that wave and undulate as they suss out the environment. Like this fella:

Except the antenna project from my entire body like cilia:

So what it amounts to is I'm basically a combo of a katydid nymph and paracmecium.

So it's with antenna alert and high that I've been listening to Tacoma by foot and by car — mostly foot. (Because while traveling by foot isn't always practical — it's a long walk from here to Europe for instance — it's still one of my favorite and most effective methods to intimately plug in.)

I've been circulating through various neighborhoods where the businesses are, the shops and the stores, restaurants and pubs, cafes and clubs.

The prevailing word that keeps flowing into my consciousness is "flat."

It wasn't all that long ago that it was … different.

It's difficult strolling along the storefronts and finding an empty space that even months ago was occupied, a gaping hole. It makes me wince.

I do not doubt myself; to my experience, I've never inaccurately assessed a place or space. Nonetheless, I find myself wanting to return to the field for a second, even a third look, which is odd, if not unprecedented, because I always get it the first time.

Is it that I'm responding to the findings with personal reluctance? Or "just" being very thorough? Some of each? Not entirely sure.

Today I'm going back out; in fact, I'm dedicating a good part of the day to walking, listening, observing with alert antenna. I'm gonna continue striking up conversations with the shop people to get their take and experience on the town's market forces and economic viability — or, these days, more importantly, survivability.

These are very tough times in which many of us live. And the numbers are only mounting. Nearly every day, if you have the guts to listen to the news, you hear of companies laying off into the thousands. Most recently, Home Depot, Caterpillar, Sprint Nextel, Texas Instruments, Citigroup, General Electric, Nokia and Harley-Davidson added their names to the list that is growing very very long.

People are like, "Yeah yeah yeah, it's bad. It's terrible. But we have Obama. He'll save the _________ (fill in the blank)."

I'm the lone dissenter but, honestly, I don't care to talk sociopolitics at this blog (in fact steer clear of it). I have serious and important decisions to make that are no one's business but my own and those in my circle.

It's time to go put foot to the pavement again. Later, gators.

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