The 2nd annual awesome streets.mn wintertime fundraiser is this week and I hope you can come. There are at least two reasons you should come. First, we’ll be having an exciting special guest, Adam Duinick, the chair of the Metropolitan Council, the premiere regional government in the entire United States, who will be attending and chatting with people about our present age. For another thing, we’ll be serving beer graciously donated by Bang Brewing, which (I must say) is the best (and not coincidentally, one of the smallest) brewery in the Twin Cities, brewing an amazing variety of great organic beers in an (architecturally genius) sustainable grain bin just across the Saint Paul border from Minneapolis. So there’s that.
But more importantly, streets.mn needs your support. The board has been doing a lot of organizational work over the last year and I am optimistic that we have emerged with a great team of people and structures in place. Personally, I’m bullish on the future of streets.mn and am hoping the site will thrive in 2017. But that said, this is still an all-volunteer organization and could use your energy and financial support to keep the lights on and the ball rolling..
For me, the current political moment means that cities are going to be more important than they’ve been in 80 years. The dysfunction of the Federal government will place cities and city governance at the center of a great many political debates, like transit funding, wages, and “sanctuary” policies. Yet, in our current political environment, people often pay far more attention to national politics than they do to city or county decisions. Most people probably don’t know the name of their City Councilmember or County Commissioner, and local elections have had declining turnout for many years now.
That’s one of the reasons that streets.mn is important to me. On this site, nobody endorses candidates, and I like the fact that streets.mn is not a traditional advocacy organization in that sense. Despite the general consensus around some core values, there’s no “platform” here and you’re not going to read press releases or P.R. Instead, there’s room for public discussion and debate and you see that every week in the comments.
Another thing I like streets.mn, and the people that read and write it, is that conversations are focused on urban and municipal policies. These are places and scales of governance where a lot of change is possible. By engaging at this level, actual people can make a real difference right away. (Or, you know, in ten years when the transit project actually gets built…)
This is to say that I love how streets.mn helps people connect at the local scale and start getting engaged with concrete (haha) problems and creative solutions. Compared to the bleak worldview of national-level politics, this is a place I turn to when I need some hope for the future.
That said, the fundraiser will be fun! “Online engagement” has its limits, and it’s great to meet up with actual people in person from time to time. Please come and meet some of the people that write and read streets.mn, meet your neighbors, and hang out discussing the future of cities in the 21st century.
Please RSVP here. See you tomorrow, and thanks in advance!
PS.: The event will be held in the heart of the old Gateway district. If you’d like to learn more about the history of this spot, check out the podcast I posted earlier today. It’s fascinating, to say the least.