Archive for the ‘City Making’ Category

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IRS vs the ARTIST

April 4, 2014

IRS VS ARTISTS

Perhaps the IRS should review some of the background information in my library on adult learning and the role of art and activity in interactive engagement and change.  Independent artists being denied small business status is an atrocity.   MSP at least understands the place of art in modern urban planning-that’s why Mpls. has a city department identified as CREATIVE PLACE-MAKING….and the DMCC in Rochester is not doing too badly in understanding the role of art in their new remake and community building plans.

EARPLUGS AT NIGHTCLUBS

A little sanity, finally, in the noise level in clubs discussion.  Never mind the cost for ear plugs…as a guest, I’d be more concerned about a “what if”:  What if they gave me a used pair?  YUCK!

This whole discussion sounds like craziness.  Why aren’t we regulating the NOISEMAKERS and not the victims for goodness sake!

It would not be hard; would not cost much; and would do the trick!

Legislate that sound cannot exceed x decibels.  A Radio Shack sound meter at each club would be a lot less expensive than a never ending supply of disposable earplugs-which , by the way, seems a pretty negative for the environment in packaging and disposable ear plugs.  Will these be biodegradable?

Back in the day when I was still booking entertainment for my events, I often added the expected maximum decibel level to my entertainment contract.  It clearly stated the entertainment was to stay within x sound level; would be issued a warning if they exceeded and would NOT receive final payment if they received a second warning.

This did wonders in managing the NOISE problem!

SURFACE PARKING LOTS

Who knew?!!!

I was absolutely amazed to read yesterday morning that existing ordinances already prohibit much of our ugly Minneapolis downtown surface parking lots; yet we’ve done nothing to enforce the regulations. Nor, have we as citizens, done anything to force compliance.

Current ordinances REQUIRE:

  • A landscaped yard at least 7-9 ft. wide
  • A masonry wall, fence, berm or hedge that is 3 ft high and at least 60% dense
  • At least one tree per ft. of parking area frontage

So good for Jacob Frey for bringing this to public attention!

And good for the city who will be reminding commercial parking lot license holders that beginning  May 1, lots will have 1 year to reach compliance.

 I expect that just like in 2010 when the city tried to enforce the ordinance, the owners will scream because they will lose some revenue-producing stalls in their lots.

Hopefully, this time, the city will hold firm. This is NOT a nicety to make a prettier place. This is a regulation to help with rainwater.  “Surface lots with no landscaping send more water into the streets, flooding storm sewers. “

We all recognize the age and the state of our ancient storm sewers.  Perhaps the parking lot owners would prefer assessments to RE-DO THAT system!  And don’t even get me started about the impact on the river and surrounding environment!

We don’t want these parking lots anyway.  Get in compliance or go away.  We are slowly but surely now headed in the right direction – to reduce cars and improve Metro Transit with a mix of cars, streetcars and trains.

Over the last few years, we have spent MUCH time and money in creative city making…from Plan It/Talk It Hennepin, to the redo of the Nicollet Mall, to the Cultural Corridor, the Gateway, the beginnings of the redo of Washington Avenue, a new Marcy Homes plan, the East Downtown plans and certainly with one study and action plan after another that has focused on the Mississippi River – from the Central Riverfront to Above the Falls.  These parking lot eyesores come up in discussions in each. 

Now is the time to start real action towards improving the situation.

 

 

 

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The Millennials

October 27, 2012

Yesterday, the STRIB Business Section featured Coco as the “office” of the future. The accompanying photo caught its “visual” essence superbly; but only if you stop in for a visit, does one catch the positive vibe! I’ve mentioned in the past how much I admire the concept and rennovated space; in fact, if I was not sitting in my home office (read: free space) only 3-4 blocks away, I’d like to think I’d be composing this from there!

However, I think the article focus conveyed a more important message:…the Millennial workforce and the changes they are bringing to the business world.

I have aired some thoughts on this in my August 30 blog, and again last week, I mentioned an inspiring “breakfast with a Preservationist” meeting led by a panel of the “Under 30s”.

Nevertheless, I think Don Jacobson nailed it in his article featuring Coco and why it is appealing to the Millennials. It is because, these Millennials, like the transitional early Boomers, have a very different view ofthe world in which they find themselves…and are clamouring for change. No one my age can honestly say they cannot relate, so my suggestion is we hang on, listen and learn!!

Ponder on these comments by Jacobson and the message from Thomas Fisher, Dean of UM College of Design to a gathering of commercial building owners :

That highly covered corner office may just be more passe than powerful.

Thanks to profound social and economic changes brought on by the Internet, millennials are reshaping the so-called office. They want to do away with the hierarchiacal layouts of the past and build collaborative spaces where they can rub elbows with clients and colleagues.

Millennials…see privacy as a negative…by 2025, “the office” as we know it will probably be gone.

How they use space flips what we have today: Most of an office will be open, flexible and fluid in its use, with only occasional need for private space.

The transformative power of the the Internet on how young workers will do their jobs, has, if anything, been underestimated.

…millennials preferences for live-work hybrid spaces that combine not only apartments and offices, but also small manufacturing functions….

Yes, this paradigm shift poses challenges and threatens city zoning codes, but we cannot rigidly hold on to the past if we want to succeed as a country in present times.

For the millenials, the office space isn’t necessarily a place to do work, it’s a place to network. It’s a place to be with other people and generate as much creative activity as possible.

The audience was also cautioned that places of work within 15 years will need to be accessible by bicycle and mass transit. Firsher cautioned the audience that “If you’re only accessible by car, you’re going to find people starting to look elsewhere.”

These comments so reinforce what I have been observing and commenting on. My regret? I won’t live long enough to see where this generation ultimately steers our world-and I know that will be a bold new world led by Americans fueled by innovation and collaboration and not restricted by the rules and regs we Boomers have adjusted to…that created the stalled and divisive state in which Americans live today.

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CLEANING UP THE POST-ITS…CENTRAL CORRIDOR

October 21, 2012

Another growing “conflict” that should be able to become a win-win…the developing issue of preserving old commerce vs funding new commerce in the Central Corridor.

In today’s world, this does not have to be either/or. Again, there is room for a win-win here.

What there should NOT be room for is aaplying 20th century principles of destroying all in its wake – creating picture perfect “movie sets” that do not reflect the soul of the people.

The guiding principle should be to accommodate 21st century principles and projections in multi-cultural city making that reflects the people living in and using the space….NOT white 20th century “values”.

The world has changed; so should our metropolitan areas.

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RAMBLINGS ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON

July 29, 2012

A QUIET RENNAISSANCE IS BORN

Yesterday afternoon I smiled all the way from N. Second Street, up West Broadway to Penn, as I chose to take in FLOWnorthside.  How have I missed this for the last six years?

Of course, I know the area; I visit the Capri Theatre; I recommend Lundstrom’s and occasionally take in a performance there; through the RiverCurrent, I know what’s happening at the Minneapolis Photo Center-but until now, I have never visited it;  sadly, I’ve been to the West Broadway Indian Center for a wake of a small child; and when it fits, I use the product from the Cookie Cart in my events not only because it’s a great cause; but because it’s so fun to see those kids pride in the great product they bake there.

All that in addition to the  fact that since I first moved downtown in the mid 90s, Plymouth Avenue from Washington to Wirth Parkway and Broadway north out of the city have been two well-frequented paths to visit friends in the burbs.

But I had never been aware enough of what I was passing through nor was I really registering  the transformation that was taking place day after day after day.

This spring, as I’ve written of in an earlier blog, I attended a Charles Landry discussion at the Capri that became the impetus to look at this area differently.  No one could have missed the message Landry was conveying when he put up the birds-eye view of the area and pointed out the interstate “fences” that kept the northside separated from Minneapolis.

Then, a week or so ago, I watched a TPR Special  “Cornerstones: A History of North Minneapolis” that told its story and positioned the Jewish influence in the area in a way I had never noticed before.  And sadly, it brought back the visions of Plymouth Avenue “riots” of 1965, 1966 which sadly, have been engrained in the brains of whites ever since.

So  yesterday I was determined to participate in the celebration of the Northside today, as I was beginning to see it as a good example of the interculturalism I often refer to as we look to the future and what we want for the MSP metropolitan area.

 I started at Lundstrom’s for a great dance performance; then on to find not only the Mpls Photo Center, but the Two Tigers Gallery as well.  Great art, and two fabulous photo installations…with more food for thought than one can possibly absorb in a single afternoon!   Just don’t look out the windows toward the river….or you will be reminded how unsightly the “business” of the river can be!

As I got in my car to head over the interstate, I sighted one of the things that motivated me to stop in the  N2nd cluster in the first place….the PEDAL STAGE!  We love our bikes; we love our bike trails; we love our pedal cabs and we love our pedal pubs in Minneapolis, but now we have a new innovation to pedal.  Sure enough, there it was, pedaled by hearty volunteers as they towed the mobile stage AND the band playing on its deck!  And by the smiles on the faces of all in the street, it was a hit.

Running out of time, I raced up to the Capri to see for a second time, the TPT footage being shown in the theatre at 3PM.  WOW!  Little did I know, the video producer was the host.  Little did I expect the impact of a second viewing.  And little did I expect the engaging impassioned discussion of whites and Asians, Hispanics and African Americans, asking questions, sharing memories, and coming together as one people, all originally immigrants to MN,  with a common love– the history and culture of the north side! (Along with a great love for Asuncion and for North High, I might add).

No one got up and exited; all of us wanting it to continue.  But alas, Taiko Drumming was scheduled for 5PM so we had to vacate. 

The beer garden  and the KMOJ Stage beckoned, but  I wanted to get on down to the Knox intersection  for the Soul Train Dance Line gathering…you may have seen the picture of same in the Sunday Strib this morning – YES!  The people gathered here were definitely into “Boogyin’ Down Broadway – and I was into witnessing them do it!

By the time I got to the KFAI Summer Festival stage, I had missed the Minnesota Lynx, a West African drum and dance, Matt the Magician, “If Eye May”, and an Asian ethnic dance so only caught a bit of hip hop and Les Jolies Petites – all on stage behind the Cookie Cart.

Yes, of course, this was my last stop of the day….it’s been so long ago, I don’t even remember when I first heard of the Cookie Cart and the good work they are doing building life skills in the neighborhood and much much more.  But I do remember several events that gave me an opportunity to use their product, and one in particular, when the kids came along with the purchase, to serve up cookies and coffee under a Target branded tent inside the warehouse at Skyway!  They were a pleasure to work with then, and they were absolutely delightful in the midst of crowds of people wanting a cookie, or a dozen or big box, as a whole lot of folks FLOWed into their storefront yesterday!

I left before I found the Open Eye’s tandem bicycle pulling “the city’s smallest theatre  to present impromptu five-minute performances”; and although I was excited to hear I could still catch the  West Broadway Historic Walking Tour on Sunday at 10:30, I did not make it back.  Bummer!  The tour used footprints layered on the sidewalk, and your own smartphone to share through augmented reality, historic photos of how various places looked in the past. 

What an absolutely GREAT AFTERNOON!

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DOWNTOWN EAST wants a fix

July 3, 2012

I had planned on attending the input sessions last week regarding the development plan for the new stadium, but unfortunately I had conflicts for both meetings.  So I was relieved to see in the press coverage that Mayor Rybak  explained today’s vision includes using the new stadium and the Downtown  East lightrail station as a link to the Mississippi River, the West Bank, the University of Minnesota and Elliot Park. Although there are no detailed plans, per se, at least that is reassuring.

I certainly hope so.  I remember very well attending the Opening Twins Game the year the Dome was built.  Basically, the whole experience was a shock to the system.  Several hours of blah did not compare well to the wonderful ambience of the old Met in Bloomington.  I never went back to a game!  Oh yes, over the years, I was in and out of the Dome for one reason or another, but never a Twins, Vikings or Gopher game…just too much of a bad experience for me to bother…not even a World Series could tempt me. 

Not long ago, a friend took the train in from the burbs for a morning at Mill City Farmer’s Market and brunch.  Past experience told me I would not be successful explaining it was only a 2-3 block walk straight towards the river on Chicago, so I drove over and picked her up.   Even in light of day, the first couple blocks of that walk from the Dome to the river is almost downright scary! Yes, I walk it frequently, but the vast parking lots and decrepit street are pretty discouraging to a visitor!  Even I, who travel Chicago Avenue  frequently still have a negative reaction as I turn off Washington and head south through no-man’s land.

So from my perspective, ANYTHING would be an improvement.

Fortunately though, the need for a second “gateway” to the river and the need to develop the black hole between Washington and the stadium will keep me interested and involved. 

I am hoping more than me thought the discussion with Landry about building housing around the base of the place was intriguing.  That may not be the RIGHT answer, but I’m hoping it stimulates some good thoughts.  If you ask WHY does it have to be so ugly and such a barrier, it becomes easier to explore some of the innovative and creative solutions and then say WHY NOT.  That will, indeed, connect the Elliott Neighborhood to the river. 

 

 

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MY YARD: A COLLECTION OF PARKS

May 31, 2012

Yesterday, as I walked the three blocks toward the Hennepin County Library to a seminar by MPRB, DID and the Downtown Council entitled “What’s Up with the Downtown Parks”, I realized I LIVE in a downtown park.  Fortunately, I had planned some extra time at the library to check out a couple books, because I started taking pictures-40 of them before I returned home!

Just outside my door, I enter the pedestrian /bike only portion of 2nd Street and walk under a canopy of trees that stretches from Marquette to Hennepin Avenue.  On either side, I am surrounded by well-kept wrought iron fences – which reveal the grand “backyard” of the Towers Condominium on one side, and their tennis courts on the other.   

At the other end, I emerge from the trees into the small Gateway Park –it’s dancing fountain  awakened from its winter sleep, and ready for its light show when the sun goes down.  Across the street, is a little-known and well-hidden great park at the Federal Reserve that connects to the Central Riverfront, but no time for that today. To the left, I pass the Nice Ride Station and head up the steps that lead me through the ING portico and down again to Nicollet Avenue. 

Across the street, is the Cancer Survivor Park. Of course, I pass it often, but have never explored it, so with time to spare, I walked through the grounds.  WOW!  I sat a few minutes on a bench tucked among the dense white birch trees, and watched the guys tossing footballs on the groomed lawn, then returned to the sidewalk along Nicollet to travel between the waterfall and the MPRB boulevard parks filled with poetry that reflected Nicollet Ave memories and dreams for the future-written by poets 3  to over 65 years old.  Yes, I have often walked by; but no, I have never taken the time to read the inspiring messages before yesterday. 

I was so engrossed, I almost missed the eyesore parking lot /bus terminal just north of the library building.  Perhaps because I know it is being considered as a site for the new expanded GATEWAY, and is part of my own Plan-it Hennepin vision, it no longer bothers me quite so much….instead when I look at it, I see my dream of an inter-cultural green gathering place that welcomes  residents, business, visitors and new immigrant populations. 

So with that, I walked into the Library, dropped off a couple books I just finished and then headed upstairs to hear about the greening of downtown Minneapolis and the planned updates and enhancements to Nicollet Mall, Loring Park, and other downtown parks along the way, as well as the status of the WaterWorks Park that will close the West River Road gap on the Central River Front.

Yes, as citizens of Mpls, we should be ashamed of the brown donut hole of downtown that is seen in aerial views of the city-surrounded by the green of a world-class park system focused on the lakes.  And for me personally, after rediscovering the Central River Front 25 years ago, it was encouraging to hear that the city has grown to understand that indeed, “ a RIVER runs through us”.

Returning home after the meeting, I came down Marquette between the towering skyscrapers, but even then, I detoured through the well-kept  grounds of 100 Washington Avenue that borders on my own “yard” at the Churchill. 

As I walked, I realized I had a pretty impressive FRONT YARD, but goodness, think of my BACKYARD!  I border on a 72-mile long National Park – the Mississippi River!

The river has been throwing a delayed “spring tantrum” this week.  The locks have even been closed to all traffic because of the turbulence. With little snow melt in April, we didn’t get quite the show we usually do, but this week, with all the May rain, it has been spectacular! Instead of budding trees and brown grass of past April shows, this year, the scene of the rough, constantly rolling river carpeted with whitecaps is framed by fully-leafed trees and a blanket of green on the ground.   No April walkers wrapped in coats and scarves shiver on the Stone Arch Bridge; instead smiling folks- occasionally feeling the cloud of spray hovering over the raging waters below-are enjoying the Power of the Falls! 

And the best-kept secret of the Central Riverfront and its Heritage Trail –the falls on the East Channel, peaking out among the greenery at the down river side of the Power Plant- is just amazing! In fact, I think it warrants my occasional use of the lower trail through Pillsbury Park to get a closer view– maybe an early morning walk tomorrow.

How fortunate I am to live where I do!

(The picture below is the “gentle” spillway, north of the Third Avenue Bridge-incredible!)

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UPDATE: NORTH MPLS TORNADO

May 21, 2012

Different writers; different tone this morning on the North Minneapolis tornado, so I definitely complained too soon.  Today we learned that 80% of the rebuild cost was covered by insurance; that claims payments averaged 41 days; and most were settled by year-end, 2011.  FEMA covered the majority of city costs…the MPRB spent $1.1 million and Mpls $800,000 that will not be reimbursed.

But it seems to me, the real story here was two-fold:  one, the outpouring of help from individuals and corporations that volunteered time and raised money to assist.  Both American Red Cross and the Minneapolis Foundation reported large donations.  The Minneapolis Foundation reported “it was the largest amount of money raised and contributed for a disaster in the foundation’s history (1915).”  And kudos also to Second Harvest Food Bank and Urban Homeworks who supplied 51,000 individuals with food and cooking supplies!

“All disasters start local and end local,” said Kris Eide. The state’s director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management…”And Minneapolis, I think, did a terrific job of doing exactly that.”(achieving cost savings).

And the second and most important part of the story is the community collaboration and what they learned about themselves, as was told in the “short take” on the editorial page by Louis King, chair of the North Side Community Response Team:

“We were literally blown together by a storm and held together by a crisis…we have built bridges where there were none.  And it was amazing to see leaders and residents come together and take risks-all with the goal of benefiting the North Side…the 2011 tornado  stirred up winds of change that have the potential to bring about positive transformation.  We have made amazing progress, but there is much more work to be done to ensure that the community is able to weather its social and economic storms.”

THAT is the commitment and signs of collaboration I witnessed at the Capri on May 8. THAT was why I objected to the “EMPTY HOMES; EMPTY HOPE story yesterday.  I remember Rochester had a tornado once that devastated a sleepy little farm community in SE Minnesota; out of that came the Mayo Clinic. With a little help and encouragement, who knows what good things will rise from this disaster.

Maybe some of the statistics from today need to be shared in a new art project on West Broadway…surely there is boarded up storefront that can become public art…a brief recap of today’s good news and a simple question “How were you helped ?/How can you help going forward”” sounds like a good Candy Chang-type project to keep this community together, and reassured that they were and are not alone in their struggle to survive.  How we all respond can change the future of North Minneapolis forever.

PS TO CHRIS FIELDS:  Your understanding and commitment to community building was over-shadowed today when you chose to make the North Minneapolis disaster a political wedge in hopes to win an election.  Looks to me like posturing for personal gain, not necessarily a heartfelt attempt to collaborate across party divides for the good of the community available for disaster relief.