August 04
♪♫•**•.¸♥¸.•*¨*•♪♪♫•**•.¸¸♥ I like cheese, wine, art openings, art shoes, art installations, poetry, single malt scotch, the sublime if I can define it, the ridiculous whenever i can find it, food in general, ethnographic history ie OPS ie Other People's Stories.


Aim's Links

No links in this category.
NOVEMBER 7, 2011 6:47PM

A Few Things I Learned From The Big Power Outage

Rate: 16 Flag

Totally big thing I learned, by looking at things and with my own eyes and brains: Cities in Western Mass. that were developed "back in the day", industrial cities, built power lines BEHIND houses, in what we call alleys. God bless them - nobody in those areas lost power - because, in some wisdom, the old people put the power lines behind the buildings and planted trees in front of them.

It is common sense to put the power lines elsewhere and ensure a beautiful tree lined street. That's why I live on Maple St. - it's named after the trees.

I live in a town that became more industrial, so the initial grid, if there was one, is strange. Losing power for six days was strange - losing autumn as well, as the storm sort of stopped the trees doing their tree thing.

My building is the only tenement building in a very lovely neighborhood. Our power lines weave through the trees until the power company cuts back the trees - which is not attractive and also kills trees. My building used to house workers who did regular jobs at factories - and I would like to think they had a similar view as mine of trees, because I love this place.

It's not exactly off the charts of intelligence to see that: an industrial city like Holyoke had power Not because of magic, but because the power lines were gridded in back of the houses so people could enjoy tree lined streets.

Who are we, really, when we don't see that beautiful and practical vision  - run the power in the back and enjoy a big tree.

We lose, and every crack of a tree falling was another nail in the coffin I am building for our idiocy.

It is not the fault of the trees - we fucked up. Our ancestors knew better. Look at any beautiful New England town - there's always a green where everyone put their livestock - it's called a common.

We need to understand and use our commons, and love our trees who are way older, and were planted on purpose.

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
I am thinking about the simple logic of the power lines in the back, trees in the front, and how it is too often ignored. Then again, too many cities/towns were not carefully planned with an eye to the future . . . thus so many of our infrastructure liabilities . . .
Anymore, there is no planning, it's called, THERE'S AN OPEN SPACE, LETS BUILD HOUSES OR SOMETHING.....~nodding~

Losing power sucks beyond words, you're like, WHERE'S MY JUICE? HELLO? CRAP!! :D
I think it points to another reason there was a death of common sense. Looks like it will be continuing.

Great observations!
Alison, I never thought about how the simple idea of running the power lines through an alley in the manner you have described here could be such an advantage when it came to the type of storms we have had this this year ranging from tropical storms to heavy wet snow prior to the winter season! Prior to reading this story I was thinking about was how little power outages there would be if more of the country had underground cables, but the cost of doing it that way is more than we can apparently afford when our nation is so busy spending down its treasury in wars in far away countries. Thanks for the wonderful post about this!
Glad your electricity is finally back on and that you are writing about this!
This is one of my pet peeves as well.
Why keep torturing the trees, and causing trauma to the citizenry each winter, when intelligent grid-to-home wiring is possible that prevents both??
I've never thought about the logistics of power lines in a city. In our spread-out, low-slung community, they're unlikely to find shelter from hurricane winds unless they're underground -- and even then, it's iffy. But it makes perfect sense to use the urban landscape to any advantage. Like Owl says, very few towns really planned ahead and we're paying for it now. Too bad we don't have to capital, currently, to fix things the right (probably expensive) way when they need fixing.
Thanks, lovely friends. I didn't really get it until I looked up, in an area of Springfield that many would consider dangerous. That's when i saw it - alleys - and power lines, and made the connection ha ha.
Here are some of the streets I have lived on in New England: Myrtle, Linden, Orange, Maple. I remember my mother telling me about town commons and the planting of trees to provide shade for those who could afford to live on "Main Street", and to make every street look wonderful. Yup, we planted those pesky trees out of vanity. I wonder if anyone will ever think about Maple Street the way the people who planted the majestic trees did, since I am pretty sure they are getting in the way of electricity and cable.
I'm not exactly a genius for noticing this....and I live in New England where it is easy to see it. Now that I have noticed I will always be looking up, which will be furthur cause for people to say I am crazy.
Thanks, everyone.
You're so cute when you're angry. But, yeah! Smart to have clean paths for power lines, or hey! bury them!
You got that right, aim. Front yards/gardens are for trees. It's nice when backyards and gardens have some, too, but that would mean utilities need to be moved underground. That's happening out here on the west edge in new developments. My nod goes to another movement in architecture/planning/design which also promotes alleys: all garages open to the back of a property, onto an alley. Leaves the front free of driveways and cars -room for even more trees. Nice, huh?
I never thought about it but I grew up in an area of alleys between the backs of homes and there were power lines there. Now every spare inch of land has homes and yards scrunched together, no wasted space for convenient alleys.

Right now flowering dwarf trees are all the rage. Great for triggering allergies and not much more than being compact and cute. It's all about appearances.
Great post. I still remember walking to school under the fine elms planted along the street in small town, Freehold, NJ. We should all shut up and listen, and care for our living spaces with more thought.
I also think lawns should be abolished and, whatever, I have eco ideas that don't float in suburbia. I guess, once i figured it out, that I was laughing at the simplicity. I LIKED running up and down alleys, and now I understand why they were built into an infrastructure. reminding myself that someone planted the trees wa really significant. Being without power was startling - a friend said it must have been romantic, not in the sense of cozying up but maybe she meant old fashioned. It was weird to drive through towns without power. It was very quiet. I stayed in Springfield, driving past the still horror of places that didn't survive the fucking tornado, to be warm and sleep. The power was on in parts of Springfield....because the power lines were on alleys. trees were down everywhere. it was surreal. But the more surreal part to me was the line of cars trying to get to the mall...which had power. In Holyoke. Like, a mile to get to the exit to the fucking mall. As if there was something there that would be better. That would be my last instinct, which is why I know I can survive a zombie apocalypse. Just avoid the Christmas Tree Shop! it wasn't that cold - going to the mall?Eh? This is why we are doomed as a species. That and the lines for gas, with angry people idling. TURN OFF your engines, fucktards.
We don't deserve this planet. 100 years ago people planted trees in front of houses. We fucked it up.
Excellent entry today. My house growing up in Canada was the same. The power lines were out back and we had some massive tress lining all the streets. It was great.
I'm really thinking about Candace's comment - what a great idea! That's what is also true in cities like Holyoke, where they have alleys - the garage is in the back, so you drive (cough) up the alley to your car housing unit. Under the utility lines. I do recall my childhood, which was painful in many ways, but knowing the alleys kept me from getting beaten up by thugs - I ran, a lot. So that's another benefit - a chance to run away from danger!
I have driven across the country several times, but really only have impressions of the right and left coasts. Seattle has alley's in the older neighborhoods.
I don't know anything about Florida (one of the few states i have never been to) but assume that some greedy bastard forgot to think of a town common and erected houses without sidewalks.
What would you do if you were without power for six days? It was impossible to get information - and my instinct was NOT to call WMECO or go to the mall, but everyone else flooded the lines and then drove to the mall. I can see buying a generator, i guess, but those sold out on day 2. Schools were closed for a week, so I can see harried parents wanting to do something with the brats, although taking a walk should be a better option than the mall.
We're lucky here that we have areas that have been conserved for nature - all of which were open for anyone who cared to stroll around. They are always open because nature is always open. yes, trees were down - but if you can drive around a tree you can certainly walk around it, or climb over it.
I think i saw the future, and it isn't pretty.
of course, getting me to go to a mall in good circumstances is like pulling my nails from my fingers. There is nothing there that I want.
Are we really this stupid?