I was checking out a display of local art in a local coffee shop, and next to the watercolor prints of local gorges and Ithaca landmarks was a card listing "10 things to love about potholes" and another listing "10 ways to recycle Birkenstocks". Potholes, gorges and Birkenstocks, there is a sense that this is how one can sum up Ithaca. Potholes and gorges- I am right there with you. But the Birkenstock thing gets at the creepy underside of Ithaca. As a proud Birkenstock-shorn American, I'm not trying to disown my lifestyle choices, but I am warry that people really do have the perception that all Ithaca-ites would resonate with this joke. But I'd like to suggest that not everyone in Ithaca is an over-educated, affluent hippie. There are undoubtedly folks in our community who have never listed to Bob Dylan or Joan Baez, and for whom Birkenstocks are culturally irrelivant. Having spent the last year inspecting the homes of low-income families and reviewing their finances, I have to add to the conversation that folks who are living in subsidized housing on food-stamps and $75 a month childsupport do not wear sandles that retail for $119.95. I'm not saying Birkenstocks are creepy, or poverty is creepy, I'm saying the idea that Ithaca is homogenous is creepy.
Everyone in Ithaca can see the gorges if they want to. Everyone who has ever ridden a bike, car or bus through Ithaca feels the potholes, but if you think that Ithaca can be charachterized by birkenstock references, please drive your Cornell-butt down the hill and notice that Ithaca is an economically and culturally diverse community.