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June 24, 2006

Our next door neighbor Jarda likes bluegrass music.
He's even got his own banjo (but declined to take part
in the world record attempt). Bluegrass music has been
popular for decades in the Czech Republic and supports
scores of bands and at least one big festival called
BANJO JAMBOREE which takes place over two days
at a woodsy city park in nearby Caslav. A lot of people
camp but Jakub's close so Sarah and I pedalled there.
The countryside here is amazing and even impressed
visiting American acts Ron Rigsby and the Tennessee
Gentleman (who asked us if the cherries were good).
To get there we rode past a still active Cold War
era airforce base with hangars built into hills
like something Hundertwasser envisioned.
I've been reading J.H. Kunstler's Home
from Nowhere
in which a lot of attention
is given to the importance of civic equipment,
by which he means things like public libraries,
concert halls, parks, and recreation facilities paid
for by taxes and intended to enrich all members
of the community for free. American towns and
cities used to be built along these lines, but zoning
laws and the ascendance of automobile dominated
civic planning put an end to that by segregating
functions (residential, manufacturing, shopping,
recreation, etc.) and funneling public funds into
roadbuilding instead of improving shared places.
It's nice to be somewhere which has followed a
more traditional pattern of human settlement. From
city to village, most essential goods and services are
available within easy walking distance. The complex
at Caslav is but one fine example of civic equipment.