*** 25 Weekend Sidewalk Links ***

Sidewalk Rating: Amplified

You are familiar with the problem of crime. Let me draw your attention to another phenomenon, exactly parallel and originating in exactly the same social circumstances: Fire. Unless I mistake the trends, we are heading for a genuinely serious fire problem in American cities. In New York, for example, between 1956 and 1969 the over-all fire-alarm rate more than tripled from 69,000 alarms to 240,000. These alarms are concentrated in slum neighborhoods, primarily black. In 1968, one slum area had an alarm rate per square mile 13 times that of the city as a whole. In another, the number of alarms has, on an average, increased 44 per cent per year for seven years.

Many of these fires are the result of population density. But a great many are more or less deliberately set. (Thus, on Monday, welfare protectors set two fires in the New York State Capitol.) Fires are in fact a "leading indicator" of social pathology for a neighborhood. They come first. Crime, and the rest, follows. The psychiatric interpretation of fire-setting is complex, but it relates to the types of personalities which slums produce. (A point of possible interest: Fires in the black slums peak in July and August. The urban riots of 1964-1968 could be thought of as epidemic conditions of an endemic situation.) . . .

The time may have come when the issue of race could benefit from a period of "benign neglect.”The subject has been too much talked about. The forum has been too much taken over to hysterics, paranoids, and boodlers on all sides. We may need a period in which Negro progress continues and racial rhetoric fades. The Administration can help bring this about by paying close attention to such progress — as we are doing-while seeking to avoid situations in which extremists of either race are given opportunities for martyrdom, heroics, histrionics, or whatever, Greater attention to Indians, Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans would be useful.

[Big ol' yard sale in Rondo, Saint Paul.]


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***


*** ***

*** ***



Twin City Doorways #31

[New Orleans, LA.] 

[New Orleans, LA.] 

[New Orleans, LA.] 

[D'Arnaudville, LA.]

[Lafayette, LA.]

[New Orleans, LA.]

[North End, Saint Paul.]

[West Side, Saint Paul.]


Signs of the Times #125


[Pole. West 7th Street, Saint Paul.]

Your Brown
Paper Bags

[Door Location forgotten.] 


[Location forgotten.]

Mr. Dave
is out

[Door. West Saint Paul.]

Please Do Not
Machine Filled
with BEES

[Sent in by a reader.]

 DO NOT Use For Confidential Trash

[Trash can. Location forgotten.]

Sorry we are closed
please visit our other
castle located at 100 W
lake street we
apologize for the

[Door. Lake Street, Minneapolis.]


[Window. Whittier, Minneapolis.]


Reading the Highland Villager #183

[A Villager perched on a mailbox.]
[Basically the problem is that the best source of Saint Paul streets & sidewalks news is the Highland Villager, a very fine and historical newspaper. This wouldn't be a problem, except that its not available online. You basically have to live in or frequent Saint Paul to read it. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free. See also: Three Reasons Why I Re-Blog the Highland Villager.] 

Headline: City’s master plan for Ford site endorsed by task force; Though a minority of task force members maintain the zoning is too dense
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A “planning task force” that has been meeting for ten years [yes you read that correctly] voted on the city’s zoning plan and approved it. Article includes details of the plan. One member is quoted as being concerned about density. [Most ridiculous] quote: “[she] asked her colleagues how it would feel walking along that village thoroughfare beside mixed-use buildings up to 75 feet tall.” [Believe it or not, by “village thoroughfare” she was referring to Ford Parkway. If you’ve ever walked along Ford Parkway, you know that it feels constantly as though you are about to be run over by multiple turning SUVs at the same time. The curb cuts are atrocious, most especially the one leading into the Lund’s strip mall area. Crossing the street is similarly horrible, with multiple lanes of cars speeding up and down the hill from the river, weaving back and forth. Village thoroughfare this is not.] There is still some debate over how to resolve the little league ballfield pickle, as the land targeted for ballfields is owned by the railroad and they have “objected to having its former railyard designated for recreational use.” [For some reason the article does not list what the vote actually was. For example, 12-3? 9-6? How big was “the minority”? That might have been useful information to know.]

Headline: Divided Highland Council supports city’s plan for Ford site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Same article as above only with the neighborhood group instead of the task force. The vote was 8-3. Neighbors are concerned about traffic, density, and character of the neighborhood, and attended the meeting. [...and roundly booed when the votes were cast, I am told. One woman left shouting "Highland elects the mayor!"] Other neighbors were not concerned about these things. Best description: “When [one man] said the plan shows only a ‘minor increase’ in traffic in the surrounding neighborhood, many audience members guffawed.’” [Incidentally, here are some slides from the carefully-done traffic study, which makes conservative assumptions about mode share, that show how minimal the traffic increases would be.] One man was concerned about heights relative to trees: “the area’s tree canopy tops out at six stories. ‘Anything taller than that stands out.’”

Headline: City pursues new use for Ford rail spur; New transit, bike and walking trails studied
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There was a community meeting to discuss how to make use of the abandoned railroad corridor from the Ford site to most of the way to downtown. There might or might not be transit on it. People like bike and walking plans, but not necessarily transit plans. The railroad is playing hard to get.

Headline: Riding tandem: Ford, Riverview planning
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Planning for the Ford site and the Riverview transit corridor are happening simultaneously. [In theory this could be great as land use and transportation are two sides of the same coin, so to speak.] A Riverview decision will be happening in the fall. It might or might not go through the Ford site.

Headline: Support grows for river balcony plan
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Planning Commission voted to support a plan to build a walkway along the bluff downtown. Neighbors are concerned about sightlines. [There is no money for this.And if the city is committing money to it, that seems like a big opportunity cost for projects which could be built this decade.]

Headline: UST to expand Aquinas Chapel as first project in its master plan
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A church building on the campus of the University of St. Thomas is being expanded. Neighbors are concerned about Tommies, especially the younger ones. Dorms are expensive to build. Near many schools, private developers build student-oriented housing. [For example, all around the U of MN.]

Headline: Thirst to be doused at old firehouse
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An old fire station will become a wine bar if the City council says it’s OK. There will be a hotel built next to it.

Headline: Commission says it’s a ‘go’ for VanGO Auto in Highland Park
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A car repair place will be allowed to start renting VW camper vans. Neighbors are concerned about having too many camper vans parked on the site at the same time.

Headline: Twin Cities Pride march gets moved to John Ireland blvd.
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Because Catholic priests have always supported Pride, haven’t they?]

Headline: Your sales tax dollars at play: Cultural STAR grants $800K
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city gave out some money through its arts funding program to arts-type things. Article includes list.

Headline: Public weighs in on city’s proposal to rezone Snelling Ave.; Plan promotes denser redevelopment along busy transit corridor
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city is planning to rezone parts of Snelling Avenue, from 94 to Ford Parkway, to “traditional neighborhood” zoning, which allows for less auto-oriented uses and more walkable density. Neighbors are slightly concerned about density, affordability, sunlight, and parking.

Headline: Efforts to aid homeless continue with second phase of Dorothy Day project
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The homeless shelter downtown is expanding thanks to some money from the city, Met Council, and probably state.

Headline: Residents balk at city’s higher rate for renting block party barricades
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city doubled the amount they charge for barricades for neighborhood block parties. It now costs $130. [This is dumb. Block parties are a huge asset to neighborhood social connections, and probably save the city money in the long run in public health and policing costs.] Some neighborhood groups would like to have smaller barricades that they rent out to people, but Public Works wants to keep the 10’ ones. Quote from Director: “We’re a public works department, not a collection agency.” Article quote CM Tolbert who says the city needs the money.

Headline: Counties to go their separate ways in funding transit improvements
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The board that funds transit projects is now separated, with only Ramsey and Hennepin working together very closely. Riverview funding will be more likely under this scenario.

         Vc;l [additional note from my cat.]<--- additional="" cat.="" from="" i="" my="" note="">


Support this Blog -- Subscribe for Summertime Tours

[An alley in the Mediterranean Alleyway district.]
Hello sidewalk fans.

I wanted to make a plug to support this blog via my Patreon page. I'm planning some summertime adventures. In addition to the regular psychogeographic bike rides and walking tours, free and open to the public, I am planning a few more exclusive trips. These will be limited in size, and will involve a small fee to cover costs.

For example, one of them involves exploring Saint Paul's new "Mediterranean Alleyway District" (as I have begun calling it in my mind). I'm working on planning right now, but we'd be walking around a mile or two exploring unique alleys and eating amazing hummus and/or baba ganoush along the way.

The other tour concept is something I'm calling the "Obscure Museums" series. Groups necessary limited in size will go on bike rides to explore and discover a few unique and/or overlooked "museums" (broadly defined) around Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

I've begun planning both of these first tours, and for logistical reasons, both will be limited in size. as always, Patreon subscribers will advance notice and a first crack at it.

Meanwhile, I have a few moire dive bar tours (walking and biking) in mind, along with a some less beer-oriented bike tours for the summer and fall.

Check out my Patreon page and consider signing up if you'd like to support this work.

Thanks! It means a lot to me.

[Tour theme spoiler!]


Signs of the Times #124


[Sidewalk. Downtown, Saint Paul.]

 Butts are litter.
Dispose of

[Window. Downtown, Saint Paul.]

 Found:  Kitten!

My daughter found a kitten in front of ###
### on Kellogg just before
Monday ####.

If you lost yours, call me with a description.


[Pole. Downtown, Saint Paul.]


[Cannonball, North Dakota.]


[Yard. Seward, Minneapolis?]


[Sidewalk. West Side, Saint Paul.] 

Don't block

 [Tree. Seward, Minneapolis?]


[Pumpkin. Saint Anthony Park, Saint Paul.]


[Window. Snelling Avenue, Saint Paul.]

are being

[Wall. Location forgotten. West 7th Street area.]


Climate Change is a Local Issue Too

Last week, when Trump announced he was pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, I was neither surprised nor alarmed. From Day One, the Trump White House has been dedicated to undermining meaningful action on reducing CO2, appointing people like Scott Pruitt, scrapping the Clean Power Plan and CAFE standards, and (still to come?) selling off Federal lands for mining. There was never any chance that anything good for climate change would come from last year's election results

That's why the announcement didn't really bother me. It just made the apocalyptic politics explicit, brought the dynamics over climate change into sharper focus. The speech itself was like a cheese grater to the brain, angry ignorant bluster, equal parts dog whistle and bullshit. Listening to it made me flee to the nearest bluest-collar dive bar to see how working class white folks in the first-ring suburbs were perceiving the speech.  

It turned out that Marty's Bar, just over the West Saint Paul border, was full. I was the youngest person there, and to my surprise, everyone was watching women's softball and ignoring the world-historical moment.

One hardscrabble older lady sipping Diet Coke from a mug offered up, unprompted, "I had to get out of my house; I couldn't keep listening to Trump."

"Same here," I muttered.

Even when compared to other great liberal lost causes such as ending poverty, world peace, or erasing the legacy of racism, the politics of climate change are particularly impossible. Compared to those pies in the sky, the causes and effects of climate change are so temporally and spatially diffuse. Our actions today will have effects not right away, but in a generation. Oil burned in Minnesota becomes borderless. It might cause the butterfly in China to go extinct, a flood in Fargo, or a civil war in Chad. It's all atmospheric, and there's no direct causality to be found, much to the delight of the Oklahoma skeptics.

[Historical analysis of who "caused" climate change in the first place.]

In a way, that's why Trump's politically unnecessary grandstanding in the name of backwards ignorance was helpful. Pulling out of a weak, voluntary agreement did little except to (hopefully) galvanize more people around this diffuse geologic problem. Mayors and governors and corporations alike were able to restate their support of the Paris Accord and reducing CO2.

It's always challenging to draw a connection between global climate change and local politics, but luckily tens of thousands of scientists and policy makers have already spent lifetimes working on this problem. The whole "carbon footprint" and "sustainable action" problem has already been researched. To the best of anyone's ability, we understand of how our local policies translate into greenhouse gases. (Even though a huge part of the problem is embedded within consumer capitalism itself; every time you spend money on a new product, you are creating CO2 emissions somewhere in the globalized world.)

[FYI, there's a bible college near this Alberta town.]
This helpful list of things you can do includes (from two years ago, but this crap is evergreen because nothing has changed) "2. take the bus" and "3. don't buy a second car." In fact, the Times prescription is just like a list I made a while back.

You've heard it all before, the "first order" direct actions that are basically recycled (! yay !) from Al Gore's 2006 movie which was recycled from every other environmental tract leading all the way back to the first Earth Day or Ivan Illich's amazing 70s tract on the revolutionary effects of bicycling.

But as I said in my earlier post, there are second order less-direct actions you can also take. Let's say you, personally, can't take the bus very often. You can still help other people take the bus by supporting Metro Transit, supporting dedicated bus lanes, yielding to buses pulling out in front of your car, little things like that. These add up and still make a difference for people taking their lives into their hands every day by trying to ride a bicycle or walk across the street.

To put it another way, even if you can't stop driving your car, you can "stop stopping" people from driving their car:
Stop stopping people from driving less

Support bike lanes / dedicated transit lanes
Be willing to pay (more) for parking 
Support walkable safety improvements like bumpouts
Support a gas / transit tax
Don't speed; stop for pedestrians

This seems easy but has turned out to be really hard, and illustrates the mammoth hypocrisy hard boiled into first-world environmentalism.

Take one of the more ignominious moments in recent Saint Paul politics: the evening when city held a public meeting on installing a mile of parking meters. It was and is a sound public policy that would minimally price an environmentally harmful externality, help better allocate scarce on-street parking spaces, and also raising money for a cash-strapped city full of poor people. Yet at the packed-and-angry public meeting, the crowd saved its most lusty shouting for when Mayor Coleman brought up the topic of environmentalism. (This happened and I transcribed it for you...)

The howling politically mothballed commercial parking meters in Saint Paul for another ten years, which is a huge shame because it's an ideal public policy tool. Priced parking simultaneously nudges behavior while it raises needed money with a "user fee" instead of a general tax. Parking meters are exactly the kind of precisely targeted policy tool that cities should be emphasizing if they want to be serious about climate change.

It doesn't end there. Other recent great moments in local Trumpism include a garden store named Mother Earth Gardens (!) fighting a bike lane because of a parking spot. Or neighbors on a quiet wealthy street trying to scuttle the city's most sustainable development in generations because of small changes in car traffic. Or Saint Paul spending over $100K to build a few parking spots for a VHS-to-DVD business while desperately needed bike connections (like Kellogg Boulevard) go unfunded.

If the people speaking up in cities like Saint Paul, Minneapolis, or any of our potentially walkable suburbs want to actually do anything about Trump's blatant attack on the future -- as our leaders say they do -- we have to built a movement around some basic sustainability principles. We need to stop complaining about parking, density or the price of gas. Stop talking the talk, and start walking the walk. That's the only worthwhile reaction to Trump's moment in the warming sun.