Halfway through our evening discussion, trading stories of Pernie Fallon’s life as an artist and teacher, Guy Giersch’s journey from science teacher to historic preservationist, and my shift from architect to cyclist, Pernie said, “Riding your bike is like drawing. You have to pay attention to the details, so you see things more clearly.” I had never considered that before, but she is right.
Guy and Pernie are both Panhandlers; Guy’s from Amarillo, Pernie from Pampa, though they did not meet there. They met in McKinney. Pernie has taught art at several schools around DFW and creates vibrant flowers in pastel and oils. At present, she teaches in the affluent community of Frisco. “When I taught on the west side of Dallas, the kids hadn’t travelled more than a three block radius, and neither had their parents. But I thought they were more creative, more open, than the kids I teach now.”
Guy moved here after a mid-life career change led to an architecture degree from Texas Tech and becoming McKinney’s first preservation officer where he has been instrumental in transforming McKinney’s downtown square, similar to so many Texas County seats, into a lively place day and night. “I see architecture as the embodiment of the human spirit. I am distressed by these abandoned downtowns that lose that.”
In the past fifteen years McKinney has capitalized on its extensive historic district designations, sound buildings and DFW’s expansion to create a destination for lively pedestrian activity within The Metroplex. When Guy arrived there were only a handful of businesses around the courthouse. Now, all the storefronts are full and viable retail extends along several side streets. Vehicle traffic is limited to one lane, sidewalks are wide and well landscaped. True, McKinney’s population has tripled from 50,000 to 150,000 in that time, but if the city had not focused on its core, it would have suffered more outlying strip development.
Guy believes that further preservation will flourish if McKinney can create an identity beyond a bedroom community. “How can McKinney attract young adults who want to live and work here?”
How will we live tomorrow?
“Just be joyous. I am reminded of the Navaho Blessing.” – Guy
Walking In Beauty (Blessing)
Today I will walk out, today everything unnecessary will leave me,
I will be as I was before, I will have a cool breeze over my body.
I will have a light body, I will be happy forever, nothing will hinder me.
I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty behind me.
I walk with beauty below me. I walk with beauty above me.
I walk with beauty around me.
My words will be beautiful.
In beauty all day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons, may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With dew about my feet, may I walk.
With beauty before me may I walk.
With beauty behind me may I walk.
With beauty below me may I walk.
With beauty above me may I walk.
With beauty all around me may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
My words will be beautiful.