Saturday, May 09, 2009

Notes From My Knapsack 5-14-09 Granville Sentinel

Jeff Gill


Design In Living, In the Village, In Your Life



Painting the old gas station black (ok, charcoal) did not strike me as a good idea at first, and then I though "oh, it'll be a base coat."


What I simply could not have imagined was that this color, even before spring has cast a green and gold shading across the dark exterior, would bring out a new appreciation in me for the lines and angles of this very simple building.


Add some brushed aluminum, or at least what looks like brushed aluminum, and a few well placed lights, and you have a whole new experience as you curve into the village around Mount Parnassus after crossing Clear Run.


Yes, there are some who still don't like it – "why did they paint it that way?" – and as my childhood Scoutmaster said and still says, "Some people would complain if you hung them with a new rope."


Monique Keegan is about to launch Enjoy Co. and you can see a bit more of her work in design at, but it's the very idea of design that intrigues me, maybe because it's a bit beyond my usual skill set. The ability to move a vase and bring in an old trunk and lean it in a corner, after rearranging the furniture and adding a coat of paint to one wall, seems a bit like magic to me. Only a bit, because it works, and those who can make it work do it over and over again, without any goats being sacrificed or pixie dust sprinkled.


Steven Jobs of Apple likes to point out that design isn't about how something looks, but how it works. How a living space works is something we're usually most aware of when it doesn't, but the tricks and techniques of making a place to work and cook and eat and relax is definitely more than aesthetics. Although I suspect design professionals have to convince people quite often that what they think they want in a room is what they are used to seeing, and not what will make it "work."


The design of a life has the same sorts of complication to it, as we know what we're used to seeing or expect to see play out. We've just gone through a generation that had to deal with "life design" assumptions changing, about women staying home and men staying with one business, or even one company, for their whole lives.


Some of us are watching our Boomer friends start to redesign retirement, which doesn't look much like shuffleboard anymore, unless it's full court, full contact shuffleboard with titanium pushers and special stretchy fabric outfits.


In a couple of weeks, on Pentecost Sunday, which is May 31 this year, I get the pleasure of preaching at Centenary UMC so Pastor Steve can focus on his daughter Laura graduating from GHS, laden with well-earned honors. Her life, I'm sure mother Emily would agree, carries a very different set of design criteria into planning a future than did the generation her parents and I share.


What I'm also looking forward to that weekend, though, is sneaking ahead a bit in the timetable for Centenary's bicentennial, since the church was founded in 1810. I plan to preach, in part, about a fellow who wanted to change his life one way, and found it changing in a completely different direction; I'm going to address how the biggest battle of the American Revolution, at least in terms of casualties, may have found its ultimate closure right on the northeast corner of Broadway and Main.


Designing a life doesn't always turn out the way you plan – that may be a good thought all around in this season of graduations, up the hill and around the village.


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; tell him a story at or follow "Knapsack" at

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