I’m spending most of the day in the South end of Burlington.
I am between errands at the Dostie Brothers frame shop, where two local boys have channeled their creativity into the creative economy, and the Innovation center which is based in the former home of General Dynamics, moved to North Carolina right around the time I was deeply involved in this community.
I worked here in 2005 as director of the South End Arts and Business association, mid renaissance, when the area was consciously trying to attract artists and businesses to its slowly emptied industrial buildings.
Now the efforts seem to have taken as I walk into South End Kitchen. This beauty gleams behind a large wall of glass, showing the cafe’s relation to next door Lake Champlain chocolates. Everything in here is a blend of artisan and industrial. The polished cherry table tops are perched on welded steel frames. Functional garage doors have been lightened by glass, high ceilings show insulation and duct work…but in a tasteful way.
In 2005, 9 and a half months pregnant I ran the Art Hop out of the lobby of the defunct Specialty Filaments building. That was truly post industrial. Just two weeks earlier we had tried to soak of grease stains, and strung temporary lighting to the begrudging approval of the fire marshal whom we invited to inspect our 40,000 sf site with fear. There were two women who made this festival possible: Brooke and Danielle.
They worked the hours I couldn’t as my new mom + pregnant brain shut down by 8 pm the lights in our shared office blazed until midnight as they juggled artists, businesses, jurors and art collectors with grace and only private grumbling.
That specialty filaments building has been redone into the offices of Dealer.com, all traces of grease gone, our community art project demolished by the burst of progress that has at last seized the area.
Three big buildings down I stand in line and consult the chalkboard pre planning my lunch for an imminent meeting. Looking forward to the register I gasp. There is Danielle, tall and beautiful, hair pulled back in the signature blue bandana of the artisan chocolate that shares business and retail space with this cafe.
The city is not the only thing that has grown and changed. We talk of our sons. Warmer places. Friends gone and returned. It is a constant reshuffling we agree, but a general forward trajectory. Looking up at the insulation and out at the sun we see summer coming, and bask in our shared past…if not future.