Build IT America

April 12, 2011

We’ve heard about streets paved with gold – and this is as close as I’ve seen. In Istanbul, we encountered streets paved with what we know it as Porphyry – a granite-like stone quarried in Mexico – billed as a European paving material – we saw it all over Greece and Turkey. Like brick from the standpoint that it is durable, conceals dirt and street soil, these square chunks of non-slip stone give a mottled coloration of reds, grays and dark charcoal tones resulting in a practical, timeless and extremely attractive surface. Not only the pavers, but great tiles of honed granite for sidewalks and shown here, drain channels along the curbs. And we primarily have asphalt and concrete!!!
Milestone in Santa Fe brings tons of it in from Mexico to create luxurious driveways, patios, pathways and anything that might require, deserve and be budgeted for this style and quality of material. It’s unfortunate that the cost inhibits many (including the public municipalities) from using it. Not only the material cost (which might be better valued with more competition) but the labor to install.
This comes back to the lost art of many of the trades and the lost interest of recent generations to continue the trades of the generations that preceded them. We have to import stone masons to restore our historic churches and other edifices fabricated from and adorned with the fine craftsmanship of generations past.
Let’s get the AGC (Association of General Contractors) for example to establish, fund, and promote summer camps for kids to pursue the trades. These 2 to 12 week camps could be located all across the country, supported by the many businesses connected to the construction industry – machine, tool, cable, wire, cement, stone, brick, lumber, adhesive, steel, electric, plumbing, and other companies related to the trades. We have cut so many programs in the public school systems that it’s time for the private sector to step-up and contribute to the betterment of our labor forces. To have a leader like the AGC orchestrate a nationwide program that gathers participation from all manner of associated businesses both national companies and local concerns in each region would be a tremendous asset to our students, labor force, and economy. Whether imported workers or home-grown we need the trades – the fine craftsmanship and the sense of pride and recognition that should be instilled and go along with such good work.
The construction industry has taken a large hit with this down-turn in the economy. Yet the unions and non-union alike could and should be more vocal about constructive measures to improve the morale, growth and development of our labor scene. Not everyone is cut-out for college and the intellectual pursuits of higher education. Yet their talent and aptitude is no less important and should be encouraged and honed – and who better than the industry leaders of this great nation? BUILD IT AMERICA!

Singing in the Rain in Istanbul on shimmering wet pavers!

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