Shaker Heights, Shaker, Shaker Heights Ohio discussed on Little Fires Everywhere - The Official Podcast
And I am your co host Jamie Loftus so if you're listening to this right after watching. For, we have a lot to talk about and today I'm excited to give you a little taste of what Shaker Heights Ohio is really like in this episode for going to be speaking with the author of little fires everywhere, the novel Celeste Ing, and we're also going to be speaking with real life Shaker. Heights residents today both city planners and current students with these student council on race relations, really good stuff, but before we get there. I wanted to give you a brief history lesson I know bear with me. This is a brief history of Shaker. Heights Ohio because Shaker Heights. As you already know from watching, the show is not your average community. So Shaker Heights reached city status in one, thousand, nine, hundred, thirty one, and like the nineties iteration we see little fires everywhere it is known for its extremely specific building codes and zoning laws carefully planning regulating the length of grass, the color of houses. How far any given? How should be from the nearest elementary school and ensuring that the city is neighborhood watched inside walked carefully amongst other things. Shaker Heights is not the only place of its kind. There are over a hundred plan cities and communities. Communities currently active in the US, but Shaker is by far the most famous of them in part because of its reputation for adopting progressive policies that would later become standard across the country. Because over the years, Shaker Heights has made a variety of efforts to encourage integration in their community to varying levels of success fast forward a couple more years in nineteen seventy nine things were finally starting to look up with the housing office, promising to show white homebuyers homes in predominantly black neighborhoods and vice versa. Versa this initiative led to something called the Fund, for the future of Shaker Heights in Nineteen eighty-six a homebuyers loan program that provided black homebuyers with loans to encourage them to move into neighborhoods that were at least ninety percent, white and white homeowners loans to move into neighborhoods that were at least fifty percent black, and while well intentioned, one of the themes in the show, this program was not able to overcome the inherent white supremacy of the real estate market itself, and not many black homebuyers were. Were able to afford homes in the majority white areas, and so by the nineteen ninety S, white homebuyers were receiving ninety percent of the loans distributed. And you know who else was in Shaker Heights in nineteen, ninety-seven author Celeste in Celeste was a student at Shaker high at the time that her novel takes place the World That Mia and Pearl Warren drive into and their station wagon in the pilot episode. It's a world driven by for better or worse, he quote unquote good intentions of Elena. And her fellow Shaka rights I got the chance to catch up with Celeste to get some insight into her history with Shaker Heights, and what about bad experience, growing up a way to the and series we now know in love so without further. Ado Your Celeste. He's last so just to get started. Would you mind telling me a little bit about your personal history? Engineer Heights sure I grew up in Shaker Heights move there a little bit before I turned ten, and then I lived there until I went away to college since about eighteen, and it was a really formative police for me and I learned a lot growing up there, and it did shape me into the person that I am for for better answer, wars largely I think for better. It is a community that really puts its ideals. right up front. That's shown. I think not only in the history of the town which was built as a sort of idealized town. Every road was planned out so that you know the the traffic wouldn't dart through the the neighborhood. It would keep the area quiet. No children would have to cross a major street and it was also a place that, at least starting from the nineteen fifties was really heavily invested in the idea of desegregation and of being racially diverse at least in terms of black and white. So in the nineteen fifties, there was a bomb at the house of a prominent black lawyer who lives in Heights, and this was at the height of white flight. It was a problem that was happening. All of the country and Shaker Heights had this moment where they had to decide. What are we going to do about this? Are we going to give in and let? The different areas of town become more segregated, or are we going to actively try and combat that and they chose to actively try and do something about it, and that's really been one of the guiding principles for the community, since then so when you were writing little fires everywhere, what was on your mind about the Shaker? You grew up in. It is a place that is trying in ways that many other places aren't and the question always is okay. Are you trying enough? What's what's going wrong? Or is it just human nature and I think that's one of the questions that the community has been wrestling with for at least the thirty years. That I've been connected with it. Is that sort of open question of intentions versus what actually comes out I? Mean they haven't solved No, but at the same time neither has anyone else, and that's because these problems are really huge in really complicated and. You were just trying to sort of wrestle with as best we can. Okay, so what are the sort of questions that you were grappling with in regards to Shakur throughout the writing of this book I mean. How much can you kind of adhere to that idealism? I think it's easy for us to see Elena. As idealism even illionis dogmatism, we might call it in that. She has an idea of how your life is supposed to work right. She has an idea of what. What you're supposed to be doing. These are the good choices that you're supposed to be making assuming that you have them rate It's easy for us to see that I. Think because a culture where really biased towards the the idea of the free spirit. We'd like to think of ourselves as being know free spirits and rebels. That's kind of that's part of the foundation of identity rate. Were we're you're here, so you can do whatever you want, but the truth is that. Mia also has her own kind of idealism. Almost sort of fanaticism that she thinks this is how an artist lives. You give up all these things for your art to the point that you maybe uproots your daughter in the service. If you're art that she really sacrifices a lot and I think she starts to see also the limits of those things where she comes to Shaker Heights. There's that. Really wrenching moment. In the early episodes, where Pearl says to her I want more than one wall. You know she's. She's saying I want to be able to stay here. I. Want more than just a.