This blog emerged from the basic idea that there is a tension between circulation and significance. The name, “Highways and Hallowed Halls,” emerged from both my undergraduate thesis on highways in Richmond and my personal experience within the “hallowed halls” of an American fraternity and the formative experience of college.
Highways represent the circulation in our lives. Highways are “progress.” They can either be considered the distance that separates or the conduits that connect our dispersed communities. They are efficient and individualistic. “The highway” as an experience passively shapes our identity both in positive and negative ways. It give us confidence to move on, but also prevents us from reconciling with the place whence we came.
Hallowed Halls are the places where our lives intersect, the places we endow with significance. These places connect us to each other, our communities, and the greater society. These are the places where people gather to find fellowship, celebration, and rebellion. These are the places worth remembering and for which we fight. These places introduce us to political debate, spiritual communion, and friendship. These are places where we form and reform our identities in the context of association.
In this black-and-white photo above, you see (from left to right) a church, the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike construction site and a public housing complex. The church (Sixth Mount Zion) is the Hallowed Hall. The R-PT is the Highway. The housing complex is a conflicted space because it is both temporal (inhabited by a displaced population) and it is significant as it is a home. Sadly, the significance of public housing is not traditionally respected so marginalized residents experience considerable movement and eviction. The whole complex is liable to be destroyed as governments change their minds.
Combined, the three elements in this photo of Richmond’s urban landscape provide a glimpse into my inspiration for this blog and my primary interests: movement, ambition, nostalgia, memory, significance, community, identity, loss, power, race, creativity, etc. I find it powerful, challenging, and inspiring.
It is the war between the Highways and the Hallowed Halls.