I visit the South Pasadena City Hall at least once a week. It’s part of my job, which I love just by the way. I thought I’d throw that in, if there were any doubters out there.
In any event, as I said, I visit City Hall and I must tell you there is a transformation over there that, I think, is terrific.
Before I go there, though, you need to know that over a journalism career spanning more than three decades, I have visited a lot of city halls. Tons of them. And they all have one thing in common: they are staid places that portray a political magnitude of city business. Whether it be development issues, business licenses or conditional use permits, city halls are where people go to take care of necessary, but tedious business for working and living within municipal boundaries.
That is not to say they are bad places. Just the contrary. They are necessary and vital to a successful municipality.
Usually, when you enter a city hall, you will be greeted by photographs of the city council and the mayor. In some places they will have photographs of other officials like the fire and police chiefs.
I remember one small town in Kansas that had the animal control officer’s photograph on the wall next to a photograph of the library director. Still another had the director of a city museum.
You get the drift here. They are official places doing official business on behalf of the people.
Our City Hall was no different. Pictures of the City Council were on the wall as you entered along with directions to the various departments. Typical place to do typical city business.
Then something happened. Typical is no more.
City officials decided to change the entry way and upstairs’ hallway to the city clerk’s office into an art gallery by teaming up with the South Pasadena Arts Council (SPARC).
Gone are the City Council pictures and, in their place, magnificent paintings by Michael Provert along with photographs from around the city by Cyndi Bemel.
Our City Hall has become an art gallery that invites people to linger while doing business and I think it’s truly magnificent. I just love it.
Now, when I visit City Hall, it’s an adventure in creative spirit that imbues me with a joyful calmness. I ask you, when was the last time a visit to city hall did that to you? Talk soon.