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The reawaking of the age of ‘idea-ism’

by Ogi Overman

The reawaking of the age of ‘idea-ism’

As we transition from the dark days of Duh and cross the bridge to brightness, it’s not hard to sense the resurgence of ideas, ideals and identity. At the same time, we are seeing the rebirth of pragmatism over ideology, spurred on by an incoming administration that is responsive to the dire need for change and understands the way to bring it about is by engendering unity, not divisiveness. If we — and Presidentelect Obama — learned nothing else from the disastrous first eight years of the century, it’s that adherence to a rigid, unyielding ideology is a poor excuse for competency and compromise, dialogue and diplomacy; it’s a sorry way to run a country. So, I see the modus operandi of the post-Duh era being problem-solving and creativity, being open-minded rather than intransigent, exploring all options and if none are workable, finding new ones. Hackneyed though it sounds, folks are beginning to think outside the box, sometimes without even realizing it. Last week, you may recall, I mentioned several ways local folks are taking the initiative to do the right thing for the common good, from sustainability gatherings to health care proposals to open-space preservation support. As mentioned at the top, they are coming up with ideas, rediscovering their ideals and realizing they still have identities as Americans. And while we’re at it, let’s add a fourth “I” to the mix: inspiration. Again, bookended by the launch of a new era and the flushing of another, not a moment too soon we are finding ourselves inspired once again. Last week I got inspired by a book titled Big Box Reuse by Julia

Christianson, which demonstrates what can be done with old abandoned buildings with a little ingenuity (there’s the fifth “I”). For what it’s worth, my minuscule contribution so far consists of taking advantage of the low gas prices and cruising around Greensboro (with a side trip to Burlington on Black Friday), taking inventory of some of the available real estate. I’ve become convinced over the years that it behooves us greatly to take advantage of all the old vacant buildings setting around awaiting restoration and renovation — or the wrecking ball — rather than continuing to build until all the city limit signs in the Piedmont Triad say “leaving…” on one side and “entering…” on the other. A brief jaunt turned up: the old Sears building on Lawndale, which may have the most square footage of any vacant structure in town; the erstwhile Drug Emporium in Brassfield Shopping Center; the old Kroger’s at Cone and

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