Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mecca Park

Mecca Park in Mifflinville or as I call it Ghettoville, Ohio USA. This is a forgotten Park nestled off the Ghettoville infamous corner of Agler and Perue in a old and equally forgotten AmVets neighborhood from the 1950's. This isn't Columbus, Ohio the state capital this is an autonomous township with a long and separate history within the modern day metroplex and urban sprawl of the Capital of Nowhere - Columbus - Ohio.

Mecca Park used to be serviced off of the old 3C highway - by three little roads - Albert, Mecca and Eddystone (better known these days as stoned Eddie). But at some point Columbus did a venomously French thing - akin to building nuclear reactor power plants on their borders to minimumize French national damage in the even of a Chernobyl. Not very neighborly - just ask the Belgians about all that. So Columbus dumped a cheaply built housing project atop Mecca and Eddystone roads while adding to the population density of Mecca Park dramatically. Now all of that traffic in and out of Mecca Park to the 3C (or Westerville road at this part as it is called) gets bottle necked on Albert at the projects.

I'm not at all against public housing or those who utilitize it. But this project was not built to be something to look at, neither was it built to be considerate of its neighbors neighborhood. C'est la vie I suppose. Typical Columbus. Like Dallas is all money and no taste Columbus is neither. Fortunately the housing complex in question is now home to a large and unique Somalian community with a grand Mosque just built to facilitate their prayers. There is even now on the old Albert Avenue a delightful Minaret built to reference the grain silos of barns from this regions architectural history. Although no body seems to ketch this bit of subtle architectural language. In an area of town sadly lacking any landmarks or city parks this inadvert minaret seems to anchor on an axial line just at the bend in the street and connecting it all up over the horizon. If only the minaret were larger and more visible from the lost end of Albert at Perdue.

Observing all of this has me thinking how much more unique this neighborhood could be. Restore Mecca Road to Mecca Park connect the Mosque on Albert with access to Mecca road - and viola a lovely middle class Muslim community with affordable housing options occurs and all within walking to a Mosque for those early morning and late night prayers. Property value would go up and traffic would be less congested in an area where the children play.

I do like observing all this happen. For some this is a bad neighborhood. For others this neighborhood went into a rapid decline in value and self worth with the advent of the Mosque being built. For me I have a more optimistic view: In a community that has suffered socially in the last couple decades from a lack of moral and ethical awareness this neighborhood could use all the religion it can get and a few less liquor establishments. A Mosque brings men and women out onto the streets to gather and interact the way a city park once used to as a vital free space in a community. Given their nighttime prayers the neighborhood is kept that much safer throught the day and night with or without all the extra city lighting.

Seeing the women in all their color from African fabrics billowing about like sails caught on the wind - gliding by in elegant and foreign ways is a tremendous gift from Somalia for this bored neighborhood. Seeing the men in their beards and kufi hats and long ankle lenght shirts - with prayer beads dangling from their finger tips and all with very clean clothes - is all a welcome relief to a neighborhood built out of an unaware 1950's consumerist domestic commercial nihilism - I don't know but Ghettoville now has a new dimension of soul added into it's melting pot of flavors.

This new dimension is a very much welcome relief to the lines at the corner and night shops selling liquor and lotto tickets to a rather desperate and nervous driven, over caffeinated and nicotined customer. Perhaps all the prayers coming from the Mosque and neighboring homes five times a day is spilling over into the surrounding homes and lives and woodland - ushering in a some much needed hope for change for this old quartier of Ghettoville.

1 comment:

Robby Arthur said...

i like the park. my sister my buddie stuart and i came down there and ride our atvs. after we cleaned up that place for about four hours. then we come back a week later and someone dumped two tvs down there. Last weekend i tried to ride but mifflin stopped me and said no. but im going over to talk to a church that owns the old drive in movies on 3C. so i dont have to ride 45 mins to an hour to ride. good blog btw