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From ‘Tower of Terror’ to Brutalist Icon: A London Landmark Abides

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LONDON — When Barbara Heksel and her family moved into Trellick Tower in 1981, their friends thought they were crazy. Known for its uncompromising Brutalist design and the crime in its brooding concrete hallways, the London public housing project, built in 1972, had earned the tabloid nickname “Tower of Terror.”

But for the Heksels, Trellick was an opportunity. It offered a spacious two-bedroom apartment with sweeping views over West London, a major upgrade from the cramped studio where the family had been living.

“We’re going to take it and make it our own,” Ms. Heksel, 70, recalled telling her husband when they first saw their place.

Ms. Heksel has lived there ever since, relishing a home in a building that has gone from eyesore to icon. Designed by Ernö Goldfinger, the Hungarian-born architect whose buildings, as legend has it, so offended Ian Fleming that he named one of his Bond villains after him, Trellick enjoys a cult status. Its apartments are snapped up as soon as they are listed; its location is near Notting Hill, one of London’s most expensive districts.

Now, though, residents fear that Trellick’s success has made it vulnerable. Last year, they narrowly halted the construction of a 15-story tower that developers wanted to build between Trellick and a smaller neighboring block, Edenham Way.

“It’s outrageous,” said Molly Berentson-O’Donnell, 26, who grew up on the 16th floor. “Trellick is a stand-alone tower, and I think that makes it iconic. If you build in front of it, you’ll ruin that wonderful skyline.”

But for Kim Taylor-Smith, a council member for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which contracted for the new tower, there was little choice. “The feeling was that it was better to have one tall building and a lot of open space,” he explained.

Given the dire shortage of affordable housing in London and the valuable real estate occupied by the Trellick, it is almost certain that someone will build on the site in the future. But residents would like their say.

“There’s one thing we want, and that’s collaboration,” said Keith Benton, 72, who has lived with his wife on the 31st floor since 2014 and who helped lead the campaign against the new tower project.

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Residents want to preserve the architectural quirks that have given Trellick its sense of community. The plans for the new building, for instance, would have necessitated the partial, if not total, removal of the estate’s “graffiti hall of fame” — a free-standing wall situated at Trellick’s base that has been a concrete canvas for street artists for more than 35 years.

The wall has deep emotional value: A section of it has become a monument to the 72 people who died in 2017 in a catastrophic fire at the nearby Grenfell Tower. Every June, around the anniversary of that tragedy, residents assemble at the wall to hold a “memorial jam.”

“After Grenfell, the council promised us that if there was anything in the plans we opposed, they would go back to the drawing board,” Mr. Benton said.

Over time, Trellick has become safer and more attractive to prospective buyers; there is even a full-time concierge. But the increasing desirability has worried residents. Many fear the build would only attract more developers to the surrounding neighborhood, spoiling the character of the site.

“They claimed it wasn’t, but this is gentrification,” Mr. Benton said of the changing perceptions of the existing building.

Concerns about the new tower proposals prompted residents to form a “Save Trellick” campaign last fall. They shared information via social media and took turns standing by the tower entrance with petitions. All told, they gathered more than 3,000 signatures and secured a meeting with local government representatives at Chelsea Old Town Hall in December.

Planned in the late 1960s to meet the soaring postwar demand for housing, Trellick was supposed to represent a utopian future in which families could live high above the smog, with every convenience close at hand. Goldfinger’s design included a nursery, a corner store, a pub, a medical clinic and even a nursing home.

Today, at 50, Trellick is viewed as an icon of Brutalist architecture, with a striking design that connects a thin service tower — housing laundries, elevator shafts and a garbage chute — to the main block at every third floor by “sky bridges.”

The structure enables the duplex apartments to be bigger, maximizing living space and reducing noise in what was to be a “vertical village.” The 217 units are dovetailed, interlocking with Escher-like precision, which means, in Ms. Heksel’s words, that “my upstairs neighbor is really two floors above me.”

In 1998, the government granted Trellick landmark status, guaranteeing that the tower would be preserved. “Trellick’s sinister reputation was always exaggerated,” Ms. Heksel said, noting, “it was fashionable to give it bad press.”

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Five years ago, the local government demolished Trellick’s nursing home, which was not under the same preservation order, arguing that it did not have adequate restrooms.

That decision greatly upset residents, who pointed out that Goldfinger had been inspired by the famous Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier to create a building that catered to a lifetime of needs.

“It was beautifully designed, and people loved it,” Mr. Benton said. “Think about it: When you’re old, do you want to move six miles away, where no one can visit you? Or would you like to be near the people you love?”

Developers proposed to build the new tower on the nursing home site. In addition to bifurcating the complex, residents argued that it would lead to overcrowding, straining already limited resources.

They also said that public consultations on the project were not conducted transparently, leaving many feeling hoodwinked.

“It all happened during lockdown,” Ms. Heksel said. “The consultations were done virtually. Many residents are old and not very tech savvy.”

The lingering fear among many of the tower’s inhabitants is that they could suffer the same fate as the original residents of another Goldfinger tower, the Balfron in East London. That block is now almost all privately owned, a result of property legislation passed by the Conservative government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1980. The council emptied the tower when it was sold, promising residents the right to return, which proved not to be the case.

The drive to build more homes has been fueled by a housing crisis in Britain, particularly in London. In October 2021, around 250,000 were estimated to be on waiting lists for council housing in the city. But Trellick residents say that the local council’s efforts to develop the site around the tower are motivated by profit: For each new unit of public housing built, they note, the council gets 100,000 pounds, or about $120,000, from London’s mayor.

In an interview, Mr. Taylor-Smith acknowledged that, “We have a statutory obligation to make sure the books balance each year.”

“The only way to pay for improvements,” he said, “is by building new homes.” These improvements include custom-made adjustments to features that are now outdated.

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Emotions ran hot at the meeting with the local government representatives in December. Residents argued that the designs for the new tower infringed on the council’s own guidelines, which stipulated that additions to an existing estate must be only four to six floors in height and should not require further demolition of buildings.

A few weeks later, the plans were withdrawn, with the council promising that any future development would be more of a collaboration.

But while the residents won that round, they are not resting easy.

“All we’ve ever done is stop them for a couple of years,” Mr. Benton said. “There’s no guarantee they won’t try again. We have to keep focused on what we want.”

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A journalist since 1994, he also founded DMGlobal Marketing & Public Relations. Glover has an extensive list of clients including corporations, non-profits, government agencies, politics, business owners, PR firms, and attorneys.

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MAN ON A MISSION: Jackson State Football Coach Deion Sanders

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(JACKSON, MS) – His name is being heard all over the football world. This time, he’s not the star player. This time, Deion Sanders is the coach. And he is the coach at an HBCU, Jackson State. The school’s history goes back to 1877 in Natchez, Mississippi.

Natchez has a wicked history. Thousands of Blacks were buried there in a mass grave now covered by peaches.

Nonetheless, it is simply wonderful that Coach Sanders has lent himself to such a worthy effort. His sharing of his expertise with the young people in the football program speaks volumes.

According to the Tigers’ website: “Deion Sanders has always been a game-changer. In his tenure as Head Football Coach of Jackson State University, Sanders has again changed the game for Tiger Football, the Department of Athletics, the University as a whole, the Southwestern Athletic Conference, College Football, and the Nation.

An unprecedented calendar year of 2021 showed the power of the influence of Sanders and the brand of Jackson State University coming together as one, seemingly in perfect alignment.

As the Southwestern Athletic Conference played a spring 2021 football season due to the coronavirus, the number 21 Sanders donned on his way to a Pro Football Hall of Fame career became immersed at JSU.

Sanders, named as the 21st head coach in the proud history of JSU football on September 21, 2020, led the Tigers in his first game as head coach on February 21, 2021. A 53-0 win began the Coach Prime era that was a touch point of the elevation of JSU football and the University into becoming one of the most impactful and recognizable brands nationwide.” READ MORE

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Team Dream: 82 AND 77-YEAR OLD BLACK FEMALE SWIMMERS MAKE HISTORY AFTER COMPETING IN NATIONAL SENIOR GAMES

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(PLANTATION, FL) – Ann Smith (age 82) and Madeline Murphy Rabb (age 77) are two African American swimmers who recently competed in the 2022 National Senior Games and were the only Black women to compete in their age group.

Their love for swimming is deep and is a part of a documentary film profiling their passion for swimming as girls who didn’t let barriers to swimming stop them from seeking their sports dreams. Their story is a reminder of the days of segregation where Blacks often could not swim in pools saved for whites.

A documentary short called Team Dream from award-winning filmmaker Luchina Fisher follows their story and will debut at Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival in August (and then on BET in the fall) thanks to Procter & Gamble’s initiative Widen the Screen and Queen Collective.

Despite being omitted from the history books, Africans and African Americans have a long history of swimming. Team Dream sheds light on the lack of access to pools for Blacks during segregation that resulted in fewer Blacks learning how to swim.

About the Director
Luchina Fisher is an award-winning writer, director, and producer whose work is at the intersection of race, gender, and identity. She can discuss why this film is important to her, how she found Ann and Madeline, and the importance of breaking down the stereotype that “Blacks can’t swim.”

About Widen The Screen
Widen The Screen is an expansive content creation, talent development, and partnership platform that celebrates creativity and enables Black creators to share the full richness of the Black experience. “Only when we Widen The Screen to Widen Our Views can we all broaden the spectrum of images we see, the voices we hear, the stories we tell, and the people we understand.”

About Queen Collective
In 2018, P&G, Queen Latifah, Flavor Unit Entertainment, and Tribeca Studios launched the Queen Collective, a mentoring and talent development program designed to give women filmmakers of color a platform to share important stories from their unique perspectives. Now in its fourth year, the Queen Collective is enabling a record number of female directors and other creatives to produce their original documentaries and scripted pieces to share their perspectives through film.

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Liz Cheney Is Ready to Lose. But She’s Not Ready to Quit.

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. — It was just over a month before her primary, but Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming was nowhere near the voters weighing her future.

Ms. Cheney was instead huddled with fellow lawmakers and aides in the Capitol complex, bucking up her allies in a cause she believes is more important than her House seat: Ridding American politics of former President Donald J Trump and his influence.

“The nine of us have done more to prevent Trump from ever regaining power than any group to date,” she said to fellow members of the panel investigating Mr. Trump’s involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. “We can’t let up.”

The most closely-watched primary of 2022 has not become much of a race at all. Polls show Ms. Cheney losing badly to her rival, Harriet Hageman, Mr. Trump’s vehicle for revenge, and the congresswoman has been all but driven out of her Trump-loving state, in part because of death threats, her office says.

Yet for Ms. Cheney, the race stopped being about political survival months ago. Instead, she’s used the Aug. 16 contest as a sort of a high-profile stage for her martyrdom — and a proving ground for her new crusade. She used the only debate to tell voters to “vote for somebody else” if they wanted a politician who would violate their oath of office. Last week, she enlisted her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, to cut an ad calling Mr. Trump a “coward” who represents the greatest threat to America in the history of the republic.

In a state where Mr. Trump won 70 percent of the vote two years ago, Ms. Cheney might as well be asking ranchers to go vegan.

“If the cost of standing up for the Constitution is losing the House seat, then that’s a price I’m willing to pay,” she said in an interview this week in the conference room of a Cheyenne bank.

The 56-year-old daughter of a politician who once had visions of rising to the top of the House leadership — but landed as vice president instead — has become arguably the most consequential rank-and-file member of Congress in modern times. Few others have so aggressively used the levers of the office to attempt to reroute the course of American politics — but, in doing so, she has effectively sacrificed her own future in the institution she grew up to revere.

Ms. Cheney’s relentless focus on Mr. Trump has driven speculation — even among longtime family friends — that she is preparing to run for president. She has done little to dissuade such talk.

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At a house party Thursday night in Cheyenne, with former Vice President Dick Cheney happily looking on under a pair of mounted leather chaps, the host introduced Ms. Cheney by recalling how another Republican woman, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith, confronted Senator Joseph McCarthy when doing so was unpopular — and went on to become the first female candidate for president from a major party.

The attendees applauded at the parallel, as Ms. Cheney smiled.

In the interview, she said she was focused on her primary — and her work on the committee. But it’s far from clear that she could be a viable candidate in the current Republican Party, or whether she has interest in the donor-class schemes about a third-party bid, in part because she knows it may just siphon votes from a Democrat opposing Mr. Trump.

Ms. Cheney said she had no interest in changing parties: “I’m a Republican.” But when asked if the G.O.P. she was raised in was even salvageable in the short term, she said: “It may not be” and called her party “very sick.”

The party, she said, “is continuing to drive itself in a ditch and I think it’s going to take several cycles if it can be healed.”

Ms. Cheney suggested she was animated as much by Trumpism as Mr. Trump himself. She could support a Republican for president in 2024, she said, but her redline is a refusal to state clearly that Mr. Trump lost a legitimate election in 2020.

Asked if the ranks of off-limits candidates included Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, whom many Republicans have latched onto as a Trump alternative, she said she “would find it very difficult” to support Mr. DeSantis in a general election.

“I think that Ron DeSantis has lined himself up almost entirely with Donald Trump, and I think that’s very dangerous,” Ms. Cheney said.

It’s easy to hear other soundings of a White House bid in Ms. Cheney’s rhetoric.

In Cheyenne, she channeled the worries of “moms” and what she described as their hunger for “somebody’s who’s competent.” Having once largely scorned identity politics — Ms. Cheney was only the female lawmaker who wouldn’t pose for a picture of the women of Congress after 2018 — she now freely discusses gender and her perspective as a mother.

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“These days, for the most part, men are running the world, and it is really not going that well,” she said in June when she spoke at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

In a sign that Ms. Cheney’s political awakening goes beyond her contempt for Mr. Trump, she said she prefers the ranks of Democratic women with national security backgrounds to her party’s right flank.

“I would much rather serve with Mikie Sherrill and Chrissy Houlahan and Elissa Slotkin than Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, even though on substance certainly I have big disagreements with the Democratic women I just mentioned,” Ms. Cheney said in the interview. “But they love this country, they do their homework and they are people that are trying to do the right thing for the country.”

Ms. Cheney is surer of her diagnosis for what ails the G.O.P. than she is of her prescription for reform.

She has no post-Congress political organization in waiting and has benefited from Democratic donors, whose affections may be fleeting. To the frustration of some allies, she has not expanded her inner circle beyond family and a handful of close advisers. Never much of a schmoozer, she said she longed for what she recalled as her father’s era of policy-centric politics.

“What the country needs are serious people who are willing to engage in debates about policy,” Ms. Cheney said.

It’s all a far cry from the Liz Cheney of a decade ago, who had a contract to appear regularly on Fox News and would use her perch as a guest host for Sean Hannity to present her unswerving conservative views and savage former President Barack Obama and Democrats.

Today, Ms. Cheney doesn’t concede specific regrets about helping to create the atmosphere that gave rise to Mr. Trump’s takeover of her party. She did, however, acknowledge a “reflexive partisanship that I have been guilty of” and noted Jan. 6 “demonstrated how dangerous that is.”

Few lawmakers today face those dangers as regularly as Ms. Cheney, who has had a full-time Capitol Police security detail for nearly a year because of the threats against her — protection few rank-and-file lawmakers are assigned. She no longer provides advance notice about her Wyoming travel and, not welcome at most county and state Republican events, has turned her campaign into a series of invite-only House parties.

What’s more puzzling than her schedule is why Ms. Cheney, who has raised over $13 million, has not poured more money into the race, especially early on when she had an opportunity to define Ms. Hageman. Ms. Cheney had spent roughly half her war chest as of the start of July, spurring speculation that she was saving money for future efforts against Mr. Trump.

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Ms. Cheney long ago stopped attending meetings of House Republicans. When at the Capitol, she spends much of her time with the Democrats on the Jan. 6 panel and often heads to the Lindy Boggs Room, the reception room for female lawmakers, rather than the House floor with the male-dominated House G.O.P. conference. Some members of the Jan. 6 panel have been struck by how often her Zoom background is her suburban Virginia home.

In Washington, even some Republicans who are also eager to move on from Mr. Trump question Ms. Cheney’s decision to wage open war against her own party. She’s limiting her future influence, they argue.

“It depends on if you want to go out in a blaze of glory and be ineffective or if you want to try to be effective,” said Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who has his own future leadership aspirations. “I respect her but I wouldn’t have made the same choice.”

Ms. Cheney is mindful that the Jan. 6 inquiry, with its prime-time hearings, is viewed by critics as an attention-seeking opportunity. She has turned down some opportunities that could have been helpful to her ambitions, most notably proposals from documentary filmmakers.

Still, to her skeptics at home, Ms. Cheney’s attacks on Mr. Trump have resurrected dormant questions about her ties to the state and raised fears that she has gone Washington and taken up with the opposition, dismissing the political views of the voters who gave her and her father their starts in electoral politics.

At a parade in Casper last month, held while Ms. Cheney was in Washington preparing for a hearing, Ms. Hageman received frequent applause from voters who said the incumbent had lost her way.

“Her voting record is not bad,” said Julie Hitt, a Casper resident. “But so much of her focus is on Jan 6.”

“She’s so in bed with the Democrats, with Pelosi and with all them people,” Bruce Hitt, Ms. Hitt’s husband, interjected.

Notably, no voters interviewed at the parade brought up Ms. Cheney’s support for the gun control bill the House passed just weeks earlier — the sort of apostasy that would have infuriated Wyoming Republicans in an era more dominated by policy than one man’s persona.

“Her vote on the gun bill hardly got any publicity whatsoever,” Mike Sullivan, a former Democratic governor of Wyoming who intends to vote for Ms. Cheney in the primary, said, puzzled. (Ms. Cheney is pushing independents and Democrats to re-register as Republicans, as least long enough to vote for her in the primary.)

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For Ms. Cheney, any sense of bafflement about this moment — a Cheney, Republican royalty, being effectively read out of the party — has faded in the year and a half since the Capitol attack.

When she attended the funeral last year for Mike Enzi, the former Wyoming senator, Ms. Cheney welcomed a visiting delegation of G.O.P. senators. As she greeted them one by one, several praised her bravery and told her keep up the fight against Mr. Trump, she recalled.

She did not miss the opportunity to pointedly remind them: They, too, could join her.

“There have been so many moments like that,” she said at the bank, a touch of weariness in her voice.



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