Jean Klock Park

Day 25 and 26

Jean Klock park. Spent yesterday and this morning with Carol deconstructing the very sleezy maneuvers required to tear down exquisite wild dunes and privatize a community commons. Will a poorly designed golf course and an upscale brownfield development really become the new economic engine of Benton Harbor?

The Jean Klock Park Wikipedia article includes an excerpt from John Klock’s dedication in 1917. He and his wife Carrie gave the park to Benton Harbor as a memorial to their deceased daughter, Jean. Emphasis is mine.

“In taking an inventory of life, we all take stock of the circumstances surrounding the happiest moments. The giving of this park to the city of Benton Harbor has been to Mrs. Klock and myself, the happiest moment of our lives. The deed of this park in the courthouse of St. Joseph will live forever. Perhaps some of you do not own a foot of ground, remember then, that this is your park, it belongs to you. Perhaps some of you have no piano or phonograph, the roll of the water murmuring in calm, roaring in storm, is your music, your piano and music box.”

In closing Klock affirmed: “The beach is yours, the drive is yours, the dunes are yours, all yours. It is not so much a gift from my wife and myself, it’s a gift from a little child. See to it, that the park is the children’s.”

Fast forward 90+ years. About 2/3 of the park has been leased to a commercial golf course and land development scheme, Harbor Shores. Prior to this horror show, a chunk of the park was sold to private parties for beachfront homes. Talk about invader species. The legal battles have been long and hard fought. The last gasp of the suicide culture deploying the same failed strategies with predicatable results. In the short term, loss of wilds and the subversion of local democracy.

So where is the future here? How does this illustrate the emergence of sustainable civilizations?

I think the answer is Carol Drake. She’s a tenacious being with a fierce love of the wilds. Decades into the struggle, she still sheds a tear recalling the Jean Klock Park of her youth. She might feel weary and despondent but she won’t rest until the invaders are repelled and the land healed. She’s doesn’t have wealth or advanced degrees, she just loves that park. That’s what gives her the gumption to keep shoving sabots into the flywheels of the death machine. She hasn’t stopped it yet but she’s certainly slowed it down, made it smoke and grind. Like the Klock’s she copes with her broken heart by giving the gift of the earth. Her continued existence is evidence of a miraculous sustaining energy. It’s my theory that the global life support system has been flowing through her. She is the vanguard, we are all getting plugged in.

Her dunes are coming back.

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2 Responses to Jean Klock Park

  1. tedring says:

    Hey Dan, I am back home in St. Louis after spending a beautiful week of sun and sailing in Douglas. I wish you well and hope for the best. I will continue to monitor your progress.

    I enjoyed reading about Jean Klock Park. It truely is a shame that these local municipalities feel the need to throw away “history” and discard the generocity of one family in the name of “Progress”. In fact, can you even really call it “progress”? This sort of thing is happening all over St. Louis in the name of “eminent domain”. Some of the local suburbs of St. Louis have taken private indivuals’ land and handed it over to privately owned corporations to be re-developed into strip malls. They say it will advance the good of the community as a whole in the form of an increased tax income. However, I have read where the landowners are being offered substantially less than market value for their homes. In fact, the government was so quick to proceed, that in two cases, they new corporation folded mid-way through leaving have the community empty with some homeowners in limbo. Something has gone awry when the government can take from one private indivual and give to another private individual. Something also seems wrong when the government which had been entrusted with a wonderful asset like Jean Klock Park, then they sell it.

    I wish I knew someone in Chicago. Good Luck.


  2. tedring says:

    Ooops, couple of spelling errors. (have = half) (indivual = individual) 😉

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