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Practically Idealistic blog
The title for this blog originated with use of the term “practical idealist” in this 1996 opinion piece, which asked: “To what kind of work should a practical idealist aspire?” A century and a half earlier, Emerson, in his 1841 essay Circles, wrote: “There are degrees in idealism.  We learn first to play with it academically. . . .  Then we see in the heyday of youth and poetry that it may be true, that it is true in gleams and fragments.  Then, its countenance waxes stern and grand, and we see that it must be true.  It now shows itself ethical and practical.”  John Dewey and Mahatma Gandhi embraced practical idealism in the 20th century, as did UN Secretary General U Thant.  Al Gore invoked it in a 1998 speech. In the context of this blog, the term is meant to convey idealism tempered but not overwhelmed by realism: a search for the ideal on a path guided by common sense.
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Friday, September 19, 2008

More on School Construction

This is a brief update to a July 19 post below.  See that, including a link to Algernon Austin’s May 18 post on his Thora Institute blog, as well as the following recent articles – which together speak to the benefits, costs, and place of school facilities, in relation to other factors:

*New Haven Independent,  September 17, 2008 article by Allan Appel on new Co-op High School and September 5, 2008 article by Allan Appel on new Columbus school building

*New Haven Register,  September 18, 2008 article by Elizabeth Benton
“With school construction costs escalating in the face of rising commodity prices, labor costs and new energy standards, the city is preparing to ask the state for $35 million in additional funding. The city needs the money for Sheridan Communications & Technology, Metropolitan Business Academy and Davis Street 21st Century Magnet schools, and may scale back future school construction projects to offset the burden on local taxpayers.”

*Hartford Courant, “Teachers, Students Appreciate Avon's Renovated High School,”
September 11, 2008 article by Daniela Altimari

*From the Washington Post, this September 1, 2008 column by Jay Mathews

7:01 am edt 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11, Seven Years Later

On September 11, 2001, I was on Manhattan's West 26th Street when the planes struck the World Trade Center just a few miles downtown.  Astonished concern soon turned to horror upon news of the second, third, and eventually fourth planes.  As we left our offices by mid-morning, the smell of explosive chemical fire and spread of dust were becoming evident.  By nature a fast walker, I sped with particular vigor uptown to meet my girlfriend at the landmark location we'd hastily arranged by phone: Zabar's on Broadway, just north of H & H.  (She was evacuating the Citigroup Tower in midtown, which seemed a plausible terrorist target.)  It wasn't the comfort of bagels and lox but merely a familiar rendezvous we were seeking.  We didn't have cell phones, and land lines were rapidly failing, too.  So Zabar's it was.

The experiences of those initial hours were surreal, as the magnitude of the attacks and their impact emerged, the human losses strained imagination, and we worried about what might come next.  Some memories remain vivid.  The next day's newspaper included photographs of people leaping to certain death to flee the flaming towers.  Posters with pictures of missing people were everywhere.  Shrines grew to honor fallen firefighters.  We explicitly thanked the police officers patrolling the streets.  The stir of helicopter surveillance overhead could be heard for nights to come. Images of the American flag roused a sentimental patriotism, immune to efforts by politicians -- then and since -- to exploit the attacks to divert attention from our national insecurities.

In some measure I will forever be a New Yorker, even years after returning to my home state of Connecticut.  Peace to those families who lost loved ones seven years ago.  Those of us who walked away from the shock of September 11 will always remember it and them.  In living there is greater purpose, to savor our days and try to help make the sober brutalities of the world a little less brutal.   

6:38 am edt 

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