Weekend Highlights

…And an update.

I’ve been slacking again. No particular reason, simply allowing the little things of life to eat up all available time. Some of it is due to the type of rat race stuff we all feel, usually time and effort being devoted to a job. In my
case some of that has been balanced by good stuff.

All Politics Is Local
I have been devoting a minimal of one night per week to volunteering for one of the City Council candidates for my Ward. While I am averse to turn this blog into a platform to promote one particular politician, the larger issues are what this whole blog is all about. So, why did I choose this candidate?
1) She’s been the most outspoken candidate on the need to push the transit envelope. The West 7th & Robert St corridors are the main ones she emphasizes, but one-on-one conversations and a recent candidate forum have shown that she’s aiming for St Paul to step up to a whole new level.
2) City government transparency & interaction. The community’s level of involvement in their government ultimately decides every issue. There’s a lot more detail to be elaborated on this, but suffice it to say (type?) I have been very impressed with her proposals.
3) Support for Fight For $15. While the candidate has not made it a central plank of her platform, she has publicly appeared in solidarity with local activists fighting to raise St Paul’s minimum wage. Her default sympathy with such movements is a big plus for me.

So if you hold views similar to mine and live in St Paul’s Ward 2, contact me to start volunteering for a great local candidate.

Book Learning
The second big distraction has been, at long last, I have picked up a copy of the ur-text of urbanism “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” by Jane Jacobs.

Those who know my reading habits are familiar with my enjoyment of long texts that take weeks to finish (my eyes light up when I see that a history book hits 4-digit pages). And while Jacobs’ seminal work only hits a 6 or 7 on the Caro-scale, every sentence seems to be filled with observation and insight that requires regular review of the entire page you’ve just finished.

Jacobs’ monograph as a whole has been thoroughly reviewed over the coals since before my parents had finished high school, so I don’t think that I will have much to add by offering my own personal take on the book as a whole (Spoiler: I love it). However, my long term plan is to finish it filled with notes, read a bunch of other related stuff, then return to offer a chapter-by-chapter analysis of each of Jacobs’ arguments.

Topics of Interest
In the meanwhile, here are some of the interesting stories lately floating around the series of tubes:

:: Walking is a fundamental part of the human species, yet Matt Steele illustrates how pedestrians are negatively portrayed in our culture.

:: Recently the Strib printed an oped from a Lakevillite (where my co-habitant is from) decrying their vilification at the hands of smug folks from the centro. While I would never want to impede a person from living in the community whose size and infrastructure is most appealing to them, I must agree with Adam Miller that [a] the flourishing of the suburbs in the last half century is due to some very specific federal policies (that were also replicated at the state level) and [b] there is often a disconnect between how people want their neighborhood to look and how they wish to personally access their neighborhood. (An example of this might be when a person compliments the joy of having plenty of walk trails and sidewalks near their home, but concerns about people using a sidewalk directly in front of their home)

:: These are great ideas which every suburban mall would be wise to consider.

:: David Simon (The Wire, Treme, Show Me A Hero) and H.U.D. Secretary Castro are interviewed and elaborate on how our questions and policies about our neighborhoods are never just about bike lanes and parking meters, but are tied into many larger older issues.

:: Minnesota Man of Mystery, Bill Lindeke recently made a human error and now needs to replace numerous bits of technology to keep up his great work. Bill is by far the main voice that has pulled me into thinking about urban issues in ways that connect major policies with the mundane of our everyday lives. If ya got a couple bucks, getting him back up and running is a worthwhile cause.

That’s all for now folks. My plan in the near future is to get out of the apartment more often to force myself to plug more things into this blog.

See ya in Mears!