Archive for September, 2013

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OPINIONS, EMOTIONS, and FACTS

September 16, 2013

My take on Obama’s actions re Syria seem to be supported by what Obama himself said in an interview with George Stephanopoulos for “This Week”.

Had we rolled out something that was very smooth and disciplined and linear they would have graded it well, even if it was a disastrous policy…we know that because that’s exactly how they graded the Iraq War.”

AMEN to that.  War and diplomacy are not a marketing campaign and should not be judged as such.

I did not get sucked in by the smooth sell of Bush and the neo-cons; I am trying not to get sucked in this time around either. I am concerned; I am a worried citizen; I have spent hours and hours reading and listening and researching the internet.  I recognize despite that, as a citizen, I am not privy to all the facts nor all the discussions nor all the variables and plans that have surfaced in respect to Syria.

I am okay with that; ready to give diplomacy on a specific issue a chance.  And yes, I’ll keep watching, reading, evaluating, and testing my own theories and those of our government.

But for now, Obama’s doing what he said he’d do…and it is messy.  I am used to that.  Collaboration is messy; but it yields results.

Actually, my worries focus on the American people.  Most were suckers for the smooth sell of the neo-cons and their use of 9-11 to justify an Iraqi War that was being planned before 9-11 happened.  I did not like that, but certainly one can understand it even if you disagree.

What I do not understand is why after the truth was known, the American people have set that same slick pitch as the standard for what is needed before they will support anything that may come from Obama.  Have we really all become the “Stepford Wives” of the American Press?

What about killing hundreds of thousands of people, the destruction of the 20th century Iraqi culture [and the destruction of antiquities protected for centuries until the Americans invaded], and a war fought on a credit card are they trying to emulate again?  It makes NO SENSE to me.

And what about Obama’s ability in the political scene do they not understand?  He became President of the USA the first time around because he understood times had changed and he was part of a smooth campaign with a good message that resonated with 21st century thinkers.  He won a second time for the same reasons. But we know the Syria situation is not a political campaign…it is real; it is messy; there are no right answers.  There are only possible solutions that lead to solving specific problems.

As Syria continued to grow to a crescendo, I would have been very frightened if I had witnesses a smooth rollout of an advertising campaign from Obama. That’s when I would have known I had been fooled the Republican way – with an advertising campaign to go to war.  So I am quite relieved there have been questions and stumbles and restarts-I know it is real and sincere.

 

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MAKING WAY FOR NEW JOBS

September 16, 2013

The second in the series “Growing Minneapolis” arrived with the STRIB this morning – this week’s topic was “Making Way for New Jobs.”

The first editorial “How to create space for job growth” featured several opportunities for job-creating redevelopment. Its first site was the remake of the Upper Harbor Terminal as barge traffic ends in late 2014 and the terminal finally can be cleaned up and made available for future growth beginning in 2015.  The article put the pressure on the city as it stated “whether the potential is realized will be an important indicator of the city’s capacity to grow in prosperity as well as population in coming years.”

My immediate thought was:  Yes, that’s true but it also could become a booby trap for the whole plan. That’s harsh perhaps, because of my own second attempt to help those folks “Above the Falls” that has so recently failed.  Nevertheless, perhaps if the Upper Terminal could be looked at in conjunction with the “Grow North” initiative, it may have a chance.  This is already in the works, is well-received, and well-thought through…and seems to have pushed aside a lot of the baggage that comes when one hears “north Minneapolis”.  It was a part of the Charles Landry Residency in 2012 and I took part in several sessions pertaining to its redevelopment.

To tie the Upper Terminal to NE and Shoreham Yards in my mind would doom it to the bad “karma” that surrounds that group on the east side of the river.  I personally have tried twice now to overcome the issues there and it will take a better person than me to break-through on that one! Fortunately, there certainly are those that meet that criteria!  But, they start with a deck stacked against them. 

This is a group that has little relationship with CPED or MRPB, although they do seem to be ok with the Park Foundation.   They tout the mantra-“public/private investments” that steered the central riverfront development, but as a practical lesson of how to move forward?  They are still back on the “you owe us” message  Based on a recent discussion when picking a photo of the Lowry Bridge as the image for their event invitation, the discussion centered on why did the bridge  view have to have Minneapolis in the background-they preferred to look up-river.

So that said, the other spots of growth featured including Downtown East, Nicollet Ave-Lake Street, the industrial area near U of MN, and the proposed streetcar/light rail lines are on target and exciting to contemplate.

Along with locations ripe for development came advice of how to accomplish turning these areas into space that will create new jobs:  Mind the Municipal Basics; Use Incentives Sparingly; Project a Pro-Job Vision; and Think Regionally.

The first three are certainly important city-making principles, but the fourth is the one that resonates with me.

As leaders of its largest municipal component part, Mpls. officials bear particular obligation to think regionally, not parochially.”

AMEN to that.  R.T. Rybak working with Chris Coleman have done much to further that idea.  I have personally benefitted from that as I participated the last two years in city-making residencies with national and international experts –sponsored by these two cities.

So if the mayoral candidate you are leaning towards is not well-versed in this, and ready and able to pick RTs banner, please go back to the list and chose another!

More on this topic tomorrow when we take a look at the second and third editorials pertaining to this overall goal.

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MEET THE PRESS REACTIONS to “Unprecedented Actions” about Syria:

September 15, 2013

I have watched this unfold from a different perspective than most…I watched with a brain full of ideas and thoughts I’ve gathered in the last ten years as I noticed a new way of thinking emerge in 2004-6.  I have experimented with that way of thinking  in my business with unbelievable good results, even though it was a “messy” way of doing things. And so, I don’t think of myself as that borderline traditionalist/boomer – I think of myself as an older person who sees a bright future ahead and tested that in the business world.  That continues to impact my business; it swayed how I voted in the last two elections, and has allowed me to watch Obama as the first president experimenting with a philosophy that will rule the 21st century.  And it keeps me re-evaluating over and over and still thinking our BEST option going forward is with Obama and other 21st century thinkers leading us carefully through the mine fields.

Indeed, it may cloud my thinking on Syria  so I am not feeling the same gloom and doom as I watch Obama maneuver through this latest crisis in Syria.  No, we are not the world fixers; and Syria is definitely not a clean right vs. wrong situation…so I was okay with cautiously remaining on the sidelines as the civil war progressed.  And I was okay with the use of chemical weapons creating a new crisis because it did cross a “RED LINE” – which was set almost 100 years ago-despite the spin politically to make it an “Obama Red Line”.  I have been okay with the behind the scenes negotiating attempts one last time; even as Obama went from saying “I am undecided” to “yes, we have to demonstrate consequences” and then went off to G20 for one last attempt to get the Russians to help control their stepchild.  As that all played out last week, I did not see that as weak; I saw it the continuation of testing consensus and collaboration as a governing style.  I was proud and hopeful.  Of course there are risks; of course there is Putin playing games; of course this will not bring ever-lasting peace to the Middle East.  Excuse me, but the middle east was at war throughout most of the history captured in the Christian Bible.  Do we really think we go from an ever-lasting mess to ever-lasting peace all in one week?

The only thing good I can say for sure about my thinking as I sat down this morning to watch Meet the Press is that I admit I am conflicted, and do not see this as BLACK or WHITE, and I still had hope to learn more as I listened to experts discuss their views.

9:00AM brought me into my miniature den to learn more.  I listened to the pros and cons (mostly negative comments) and I continued to come to the same conclusion I have reached in the past.

Judgment and advice are all wrapped in a myth – that myth that the US can continue with 20th century thinking and actions; it is as if we can reset, do it again and get it right.  We could have been discussing any number of world “crises” that have come before.  Each commentator (with the exception of 1-2) had a position- staked out over 50 years and that was the RIGHT way – no matter what.  A telling comment slipped out at one point – “the last victory we had in the Mideast was under Jimmy Carter.”

NO one challenged that, so if that’s the case, perhaps we need to RETHINK  what our expectations should BE about the mideast. It has been the cause of most skirmishes and political discussions my entire adult life.  If we have not figured it out in 50 years and “put them on the correct” path, perhaps it’s time we pause and ask why are we doing this.  Are there other options?

We don’t because we know the answer- we do it for OIL; that gets tangled in RELIGION; and then we wrap it all up in PRIDE…Pride that tells us that only the Americans know the right way to do anything… and we have been charged somehow with bringing democracy to the world – so all peoples can share the good life of the Americans…even if that Good LIfe is mostly concentrated in the top 1% of our citizens, and some think at least 47% cannot be helped. 

Really, folks?  One of these days, I would like to see Meet the Press take a little risk.  Instead of asking the  old men and women who are so tightly trying to hold on to influence and power, perhaps we should have a panel of 21st century commentators – perhaps we should acknowledge the US is not all aging “angry old birds” .  Those young commentators? They are not all Obama fans; they are not all wanting to go off to war; but they THINK DIFFERENTLY.  And that is the important thing.  Give the world a chance to hear how Americans coming INTO leadership positions think and why.  This old bird thinks we would be a better country for doing so.

 

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SATURDAY’S GOOD NEWS

September 14, 2013

FIRST FROM GENEVA…

It appears US-Russian may have reached an agreement this morning on how to proceed in terms of Syria’s chemical weapons…can’t wait to hear the nay-saying Andrea Mitchell’s report from Geneva; I am sure she will be shooting holes and doubt…but nevertheless, I believe “it’s working”.

Kerry’s address from Geneva is now available on NBC News.

ALL’S WELL AT UM…but WHAT ABOUT THE PRESS?

The recent study on Administrative costs at the University of Minnesota refutes the Wall Street Journal’s claim that it was tops in spending in 72 public research universities they reviewed.

Not only nice to know they were wrong, but it did indeed start the conversation; and a responsible plan from Governor Dayton then tied the U’s funding to doing an evaluation.    While the study was taking place, the University proceeded with its own financial review and determined that there were things that could be changed; mostly through attrition and some re-org and as a result, they will save $90 million over the next six years – despite the fact the independent study of the U put it at the BOTTOM end of the spectrum – not the top.

So why the bad press?  Hmmmm.  Today it was reported that misleading data and reporting errors in the Wall Street Journal evaluation were the culprit.

So once again, I’ll pose my theory.  Once upon a time in the 20th century; we had BELIEVABLE NEWS and News reporters.  Today we have NEWS for ratings-not necessarily truthful news.

Of course we cannot go back and capture that time, but how do we either hold the press accountable for the truth OR educate the citizens not to believe everything they hear without doing a little fact checking  themselves?

As I think about it, I sadly agree we can no longer hold our Press accountable so instead, we need to shift our thinking.  How do we educate our citizens to understand that, and then teach them how to dig for the truth themselves instead of believing their favorite newscaster walks on water?  Yes, we have always had strongly disagreeing politicians, and we have always had scandal sheets, but where are Edward R Morrow and Huntly-Brinkly when we most need them?

TED TALKS TODAY…

TED featured eight views of mental illness this morning.  I was so pleased I took the time to watch some of them or I would have missed Temple Grandin.  Her talk this morning on autism was fabulous.  It was totally in keeping with recent things I have been reading.  Autism is not a mental illness; not something to hide, but indeed, we need to determine where each brain is on the continuum and direct development efforts to that strength, instead of “special ed” because they do not fit in.  I’ve shared stories in past blogs on this; I become more and more convinced that there is a good part of our education system over past 50 years that reflected suburban design and continues to remind me of that old song  “Little Boxes” …and they all looked just the same…or they were rejected.

Grandin made a passionate case for the continuum of strengths of a brain, and identifying where each of us are on that continuum so that we can direct development to that strength; then match that to careers and jobs. AMEN to that!

AND SOME PRESONAL GOOD NEWS….

For some time now, I have noticed a particular ghosty image has appeared on my computer screen in the morning.  Every so often, I would see a transparent circle with a distinctive rim superimposed on whatever I was looking at on my laptop.  Sometimes it was one circle- sometimes it was two.

And each time, the image reminded me of a contact lens.  So every time it appeared, I got distracted trying to make sense of how I could all of a sudden “see” my lenses…and occasionally I would stray off into “what if” and start worrying that it was not my contact, but perhaps it was something wrong with my eye. 

But it would disappear and quickly I would forget all about it – until the next time.

LOL!  It happened again this morning, but since it was Saturday, I was cleaning my contacts and that meant I was wearing my glasses.  Even I could figure out that that meant it was NOT a reflection of contact lens. J    But as I looked more closely, I saw FOUR circles reflected on the screen and I finally figured it out.

It was sunny; the sun was streaming through the side balcony window; it was hitting the wall beside me  which contains a display of plates…with gold rims.  The reflection was then bouncing onto the computer screen  – and if that screen image included a dark background, I could see the rims of the plates superimposed on the screen.

Good thing I didn’t call the optometrist asking for an emergency appointment.   How embarrassing would that have been?  Instead of a new set of contacts, I may have just been locked up! 

 

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PUTIN TAKES STAGE FROM OBAMA….

September 13, 2013

…Read the STRIB headlines yesterday.  And I said, do we care if the problem get’s resolved?

It is certainly “fitting” since Russia has been the MAJOR supplier of ingredients to MAKE the chemical gases  so I prefer to think the US may have just out-maneuvered Russia on this one.  After all, whatever you think of Obama, you cannot say is not intelligent and matching the Obama/Putin ego, whose do you think is bigger?

So only if trying  to “get” Obama is a greater motivator for the US Press than stopping the evils of Russia and Syria, will we all be sucked in on this one.

REPEAT TO YOURSELF:  21st CENTURY NOT 20th CENTURY.  Are you judging using old guidelines; or are you looking at this from the world we live in today?

Then ask yourself just one question:  Which would you rather have?  Peace through collaboration or Peace only after a war?  This is not about WINNING, it’s about SAVING LIVES.

 

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OBAMA AND SYRIA

September 11, 2013

I woke up this morning thinking…why am I still conflicted on Syria; why can’t I seem to be as strongly  “YES”  or “NO”  as everyone around me?  I made my coffee, unfolded the paper, and read the headline ”Obama Backs Diplomacy; Keeps Strikes as Option”  and decided….I need to sort this out in my own mind – everyone else I know has.

Who is the man named Barak Obama?

Obama is anti-war in general; as a senator, he voted NO to the Iraq War…one of the few at the time that, like me, was not drawn into the neo-con nonsense.  I had watched 7.5 months of the Bush campaign and preparations to go to war against Iraq that started the day he was inaugurated; and I was leery.  I believed then, and I still believe, that the Neo-Cons manipulated Little George into a position of war to show up his father and finish a job that George Sr. did not finish.  And then 9-11 happened; masterminded by a man NOT from Afghanistan; but by a man that  took refuge there; so despite the fact history had just shown us the difficulty of winning a war in Afghanistan-based on the Russians then recent long attempt- we went to war without Congressional approval…..a war that is 12 years old and still continues.    So yes, Obama voting no to war was a good signal to me.

Obama was concerned about the Syrian civil war but clearly drew the line on entering a war and putting Americans at risk.  The US offered aid when it could be assured that aid would not end up in Al Qaida hands.

 Of course, that put Republicans against him; united in the belief that he is weak in foreign policy…because it does not follow the bluster of the second half of the 20th century; but then, SO FAR, it has not yielded wars that drag on and on and on…think Viet Nam; Afghanistan; and Iraq.

Most Americans were relieved we were not jumping in; many of us were still troubled that through the longest war since Viet Nam, the Bush Administration had given NO THOUGHT to what war in the 21st century would be like….NO THOUGHT to the kinds of injuries that would be incurred; NO THOUGHT to increasing veteran services to accommodate returning wounded soldiers – both physically and mentally.

All that was left to Obama; along with the slow process of ending the Iraqi War, working through a plan to extract us SOMETIME soon from Afghanistan; and trying to play “catch-up” with getting help for all the GIs that followed the Bush command to go to war. And let’s not forget to add to the list that in 2006, the Bush Administration started stockpiling cause and money to extend our wars in the Middle East to include Syria as well…Had McCain won the Presidential election in 2008, I have no doubt we’d be in the thick of that war as well – with similar disastrous results.  Fortunately Obama won.

Seriously, folks, do you really think what he inherited made him a war-monger?  Come on; get real!

Take a deep breath and think of the timeline.  The most recent chemical bombings happened on August 21 and were well-documented.

For some amount of time the battle of what to do raged inside the White House.  How many times did we hear Obama say “I’m still undecided”; and how many times did you hear the Press criticize him for that?  How many times did you hear your favorite commentator say:

“He’s ready to bomb; can’t he just wait for the UN inspectors to get out?”

or

“What is he waiting for?  The battle ships are in place.  If he doesn’t do it this weekend, we will lose the advantage of surprise?

Really folks, do you REALLY think anyone interested in the world wasn’t listening in on your constant evaluations?  Even in pre-WWII days, the world knew a debate was happening in the US so you can be sure, the world was tuned in to the blathering Press this time around.  But maybe the blathering  gave good coverage for the President to work through the possible action steps.

Nevertheless, through all that, I was hesitant and confused.

  •        I voted for Obama twice because he thought differently than our 20th century leaders.
  •         He was a man that believed leadership was reaching consensus through discussion-not unilateral decisions based on “power”.
  •          He filled his Cabinet and advisory positions with a mixture of folks- both Republican and Democrats that were experts on the task     at hand.
  •          I voted for him as the best representative of an emerging USA of the future.  For me that meant:

 

    1.    No ingrained philosophies of the good old boys; he was an independent thinker
    2.    A strong belief in consensus building through collaboration-something I know from experience on a smaller scale yields GREAT results, but is very “messy along the way
    3.    A first step in US leadership that reflects the USA of 2040 – multiculturalism
    4.    He was not an “angry old bird” from my generation trying to protect a myth that those of us who came into adulthood by 1970 “KNOW BEST”

So in spite of doubts, I reminded myself to watch the signals- he was doing exactly what I should expect.  He was preparing for retaliation, but he was struggling- as war goes against everything he believes in, and he was sharing that with the American people.  Over and over, he said he was undecided.

This brings us to the weekend before the G20.  The Press had already decided war was beginning that weekend as he had to do it before he left for Europe.  What?  Would any responsible President start a war on Sunday and leave for Europe the following week?   Well, obviously had the Press been in charge, we would have been foolish enough to do so.

Remember Andrea Mitchell bitching about the cost of repositioning the warships if they were not going to be used, and What was he doing playing golf on Friday with a war starting the next day or so?!!!

So that weekend, I went back to the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize and the discussion of “Just Wars”.  I read again the yeahs and nays and was reminded once again why I voted for Obama twice.

He is not a man of the world in which I was born, grew up, and formed my beliefs.  He’s a man suited to leading us in small steps to a better world of the 21st century.

I will not always agree; I do not have the same perspective.

But I believe his hesitancy was real; his actions were based on assessment of divided views within his advisory groups; and that it was well worth the delay that weekend to give diplomacy one more chance to work as he put a hold on action and tried one last time to work out an equitable plan with Putin at the G20, while Kerry continued discussions with his own Russian counterpart.

Personally, I think they fooled the Press…one more time…and now we have a reprieve-short as that may be.

Of course the naysayers and the Press will continue to shout WRONG – the wires were burning with Andrea Mitchell’s attempt just this noon.  She even did a whole segment on Nancy Reagan running the government as she questioned why Obama mentioned Michelle.

 No Andrea, I think most of country heard him say:  This is really hard and I know most people do not want war – I do not want war; Michelle does not want war.  THAT is totally different than the spin you are putting on things because of your own personal opinion…and forever more, I will think less of you for your presumption that as a reporter you know more than the President of the United States.

But as I look at what’s unfolded and how…I’d say one more time, his country underestimated a man of the 21st century.   As we continue to judge him against old standards that obviously did not quite make our world a better place for all.  Today’s 12th anniversary of 9-11 is certainly a testament to that as are the resulting wars that still continue with or without us in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the incredible debt piled up for starting  and paying for those wars on a credit card.

Obama is the first to try to blaze this new trail into a whole new world where no precedents have been set and for which there is no tested playbook.  Will he be right all the time?  Probably not, but will he have done a better job than all the Angry Old Birds including McCain and Andrea Mitchell?

I think so; so I’m sticking with him.

 

 

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POTPOURRI

September 9, 2013

 

SYRIA Becomes Excuse….

 

Who ARE these people we vote into office?  Looking for an excuse, the US Congress is finding one.  SYRIA trumps Immigration….it’s now unlikely immigration will be addressed for “months” if at all this year. 

 

Again, this is one more reason for change big time in the 2014 election.  Two years of DO-NOTHING should signal VOTE NO from constituents!

 

MN REPIBLICAN PARTY

 

One almost has to feel sorry for those Minnesota Republicans trying to move forward after the damage done by their one-time leader Tony Sutton.   Hard to stomach his picture on the STRIB front page this morning…it took me back to 2008 and the slimiest person I have ever encountered in my professional career.  Unfortunately, it is not surprising today’s news reports he has personally filed bankruptcy – why not, I guess – he had already bankrupted his party!

 

NICOLLET MALL FACELIFT

 

The tentative facelift to Nicollet Mall would be SO welcomed!  Finally, we could have a chance to fix the half-done design from the 1960s.  The magic worlds are more green connections – perhaps we could include a vertical farm and market along the way.  Can’t wait to see the three finalist designer plans revealed on September 17th!

 

MORE GOOD HEALTHCARE NEWS

 

Allina is experimenting with different ways to diagnose high blood pressure….with preliminary findings that indicate 30% of those on meds do not really need them!  Good for them…and good for me.  I have long held the opinion that many docs over-medicate. 

 

MAALOULA ATTACKED

 

The Syrian War has now impacted Maa loula – the oldest Christian community in the world – so ancient they still speak the language of Jesus – Aramaic.

 

For the second time in four days, rebels swept through the town which had been abandoned a few days earlier by citizens and priests who oversaw the Mar Takla Nunnery.  The 27 nuns had remained to care for the dozen orphans housed at the nunnery.

 

Apparently no one was hurt, but this certainly shows the complexity of issues attached to this trouble from yet one more perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

NSA and SMARTPHONES

 

More fallout from Snowden re the NSA….this time Germans protesting both NSA/GCHQ (British) eavesdropping on specific individuals.

 

I am still isolated out here in the world saying we’re approaching this all wrong,   Again, one more time…start familiarizing yourself with input like that discussed in “the New Digital World”….then rather than taking a path of 20th century knee-jerk reactions, let’s have a conversation based on the REALITIES of today’s world – what we gain and what we lose AND THEN debate what citizens of the world want going forward and how to accomplish that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SIZING UP THE CITY

September 9, 2013

Today the STRIB launched a four part series entitled “SIZING UP THE CITY”.  The first topic focused on the relatively new “return to the city” population growth after years and years of exodus to the burbs.  The series was positioned in conjunction with the upcoming mayoral race here in Minneapolis.

However, the STRIB editorials are not a method of exploring the positions of candidates.  “Instead, the Editorial Board will use the recommendations already gathered on how best to address job creation, growth-friendly transit, and disparities in education, income, housing and health to question candidates on their positions.”  GOOD THINKING, Editorial Board – I commend you! 

As most of you know, I have an interest in cities.  I studied Urban Planning under Doctor Borchert a long time ago-and somewhere among the archives on West Bank, there may even be some mapping projects on file that I created in that process.  And then for the next 25-30 years, I visited most of the major cities around the world before deciding no more airplanes; no more hotel rooms-despite everyplace I have been, I love Minnesota and Minneapolis the best.

 So I returned.  I have lived on campus overlooking the river, in Cedar Riverside “near” the river, in old suburbs like Hopkins and Bloomington and new growing suburbs like Eagan and Plymouth, and a couple attempts at life in Edina in between. But here in Minneapolis on East Bank overlooking the river or today, on West Bank overlooking the river is where I feel most at home.   So of course, I think it is about time that we all recognize –like I grew to understand- the potential of Minneapolis!

You also know I have spent almost 20 years as part of a group originally called The Mississippi Mile that has now emerged as the Central Minneapolis Riverfront District.  That group, driven by two dedicated persons – one from CPED and one from MPRB and a mixture of many, many private and public partners helped  create not only the district but pushed the city of Minneapolis to reconnect to its roots on the river.

In the last couple years, I turned back to those urban planning roots as I participated in several planning projects as Plan It Hennepin evolved into plans for the Cultural Corridor; the new stadium brought new life to plans for East Downtown, and as plans evolve for new transit systems and rethinking of major thoroughfares such as Washington Avenue.  Recently, I have even shared with a few of you how enticing and exciting I find the plans emerging for DMC (Destination Medical Center) in Rochester – almost enough to wonder if I should return to my original roots!

So with that long explanation, you can imagine how excited I was this morning as I simply poured over the OPINION EXCHANGE featuring “Growing Minneapolis” First in a Series.

This first editorial, entitled “Sizing up the City” began on Page One above the fold and continued on to OP2- 2 columns, full page.  Do you remember ever seeing that before?  I have not, but I settled in to read and absorb as the space devoted to this signaled the STRIB thought it Important and Worthwhile!

…..60 years of declining population from 1950 on; while the overall metro area grew.

…..In 2011 a change began.  The city grew; North Loop, University and Midtown Greenway areas      blossomed.

…..Not just empty nesters but young singles and families looking for “energetic urban lifestyles” moved      downtown.

…..Growth must continue or those who live in the city will drown in property taxes.

Using Denver, Seattle and Portland as successful examples, the STRIB editorial outlined what needs to be done:   Accept density; expand transit; solve the school problem;  control crime and the perception of crime;  keep property taxes in check; and beautify public spaces.

As I read, I was nodding my agreement – familiar with most of the issues and concepts from projects I have taken part in.  And then came this paragraph:

Accepting density also requires a change of mind-set.  Growth should be infused into all city policies.  Example: an elaborate plan for parks along the Mississippi riverfront north of downtown somehow failed to include housing.  That was a mistake. More parks aren’t much good without more people.  As University of Minnesota urban geographer John S. Adam says about urban policy: ‘Everything is related to everything else.’ ‘

Well don’t try telling that to the Above the Falls folks!  These are the same people that I was working with to design an event so they could share that new “elaborate plan” with potential partners and businesses they have targeted to provide the money to get it done for them.  They told me in no uncertain terms when I suggested a map of the new plan and an interactive exercise entitled “Imagine” that no one was allowed to imagine or give input.  The plan was approved by the city and this is what it was and how it would be developed. 

Yes I know; that is NOT how development works.  I have used the Mill City Museum several times as an example.  It was not in the first development plan nor the 30 year plan nor any revision, alteration or redo through most of the forty years of initial development on the Central Riverfront.  But the timing was right and  Nina Archibal had a vision; and the rest is history-and aren’t we glad she did?!!. 

I could not help but chuckle.  This is the group I just walked away from after giving them double the hours I quoted for the project and spending eight weeks being screamed at by uncontrollable citizen members who are also “Board members”.    Although I already was at peace over refusing to attend another meeting and taking that abuse one more time while I slowly extricated myself, it is always nice to see those responsible for one’s discomfort written up in the Star Tribune as wrong! 

Accompanying the Editorial and a background piece on how the series came about and how it was produced was a third piece entitled “Twin Cities development: A history”.  It too was a good read that ended with some sage advice praising long-range thinking over thinking short term, clinging to a familiar past.   Amen to that as well! 

I for one, am looking forward to next week’s installment…and the eventual quizzing of mayoral candidates and their thoughts on the subject!

 

 

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THE WORLD KNEW…FOR 30 YEARS

September 8, 2013

Interesting article in STRIB A17 entitled “World Watched as Syria Stockpiled” – to learn this all started in the 1980s, that First George Bush raised it as issue in 1991, that George W admin personnel admit they were well aware but had too many other “priorities” and that as Obama took office in 2009 and learned of the behind the scenes inactivity of 8 years of George W, it was flagged in high classified document to diplomats around the world by the STATE DEPARTMENT.

 

None of that helps the situation- so far I still can’t say with certainly where I personally stand on intervention issue except that, indeed, my instincts were correct – this is not an OBAMA issue but a 30 year failure of the US to act that has now come to a head.

 

And of course, Russia will block it in UN – they were a primary supplier of materials to accomplish this from the beginning…along with Iran, some Western European suppliers AND a few AMERICAN companies.

 

Fortunately, the  article ended on a positive note -Syria still depends on Russia and the Czechs for key resources – so perhaps the West can exploit this vulnerability to get Syria to stop.

 

Guess since this crossed Democratic and Republican Presidents both, we all should have a hard time looking at ourselves in the mirror – but at a minimum – it makes it hard to point the blame to Obama – he might be the only President in 30 years who had the courage to raise the issue and try to act to stop it. 

 

 

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A HARVARD “EXPERIMENT”

September 8, 2013

“What if Harvard Business School gave itself a gender makeover, changing its curriculum. rules and social rituals to foster female success?”

How sad is this:  Harvard B School created a two-year “experiment” in treating women better (no hazing, groping, etc.) and actually “tried” to treat women with the same test scores and grades as equals.  By graduation, almost  40% of the  George Baker  honorees were women.

Although it is admirable that progress was made, its totally disgusting that a school first launched this as an “experiment” in 2011–50 years after the beginnings of the women’s movement.  This school is a primary source and training ground for Fortune 500 businesses.  And we wonder why there are only 21 women CEOS in those same companies? 

The saddest part of the story is that they think they have led the world in this “experiment” in treating women as equals and now as the “chosen”, have a duty to lead the world in sharing the results. Harvard does not deserve praise; they deserve chastising.  It’s only slightly comforting to know that  when one protests a bit too much, it’s often out of fear.  If a two year “experiment” yielded 40% equality – just think what a long term commitment could do…- maybe expose these guys as the frauds they are! 

So let’s hold the accolades, folks, and call it what it is…REPREHENSIBLE!