Photo of flat shallow snow to the horizon, a groomed cross country ski trail on the right and a set of footprints leading up the the photographer's point of view on the left.

Sunday Summary – January 28, 2018

Much of Minnesota had a snow day (or two) last week which provides the inspiration for some of this week’s content (both prose and pictures) in addition to some big ideas about projects and policy. Next Sunday, the Super Bowl happens in Minneapolis (without the Vikings on the field) and the impact of that event is already being felt downtown on streets, transit routes, parking, and more. I wonder, when the number crunchers tot up the economic benefit of the Super Bowl to Minneapolis, will they also figure in the costs to employers, residents, and non-football visitors who can’t get where they need to go because a private event has commandeered the public space?

Snow day

How the Snow & Sidewalks Saved Me $11,445.99 or, how a snow day walk to local business revealed bargains and community to Jennifer Cannon in West Saint Paul and some questions about the impact of a closed bridge, car traffic and foot traffic: “I left wondering why in such a walkable neighborhood as mine any of the small businesses along Smith Avenue should have trouble staying afloat because the bridge two miles down the road was closed. We have plenty of people on this side of the river and although the closure of the bridge is certainly inconvenient, I can’t believe the only people getting haircuts and buying antiques get here exclusively via that bridge.”

Want to Build Community Spirit? Let it Snow! by Amy Gage reveals what many Minnesotans know well: when it snows, we get out of the house to help our neighbors shovel snow, push vehicles, and enjoy each other’s company: “On foot, on a bus, laughing at our common peril: That is how we build community in the winter of our discontent. We remind ourselves that we are all in this together.”

A Walking Minute by Julia Curran reflects on minutes experienced at walking speed and the lovely details observable at that pace: “But a driving minute is a totally different unit of time than a walking minute. The experiences aren’t parallel. Walking isn’t driving slowed down. When I walk, I experience the world in a more vivid and fuller way. I am in motion with my city, in my posture, in my steps, in what I can take in with every sense and in what I give back in every sense.”

Standing on the frozen channel between Bde Maka Ska and Isles, looking north to the island through the bridge under Lake of the Isles Parkway. The sky over the island and the trees glow with sunset, but the sky visible above the bridge is an early twilight blue, with trees reaching inward on both sides.

Looking north to Lake of the Isles

Big ideas

If I Ran the World: West 7th Street “would be great. In addition to cool shops and bars, a long history, and excellent transit, West 7th Street would have a series of linear parks,” says Dana DeMaster. Looking to simplify diagonal West 7th Street, the post sketches in possible small parks which would also improve safety: “It would be so much less confusing if there were fewer streets at intersections. Like two. Two streets should meet at an intersection. So, let’s take seven of the worst intersections and make the quietest street into a short, linear park. None of my seven have houses facing the short street. A few have commercial drive-ways that could be moved. At most three or four parking spaces would go away, but we would be walking so it wouldn’t matter.”

Do We Owe Waldorf Anything? asks Matthias Leyrer. Waldorf, MN, population about 250, has asked the state legislature for $2 million (about $40K per resident) to fix their failing water treatment system; this post asks why taxpayers should pay for this when “On the outside, it’s pretty clear that Waldorf does very little for the state as a whole and that even fixing its infrastructure is probably not going to save it from its inevitable death. It’s not on a railway, it’s not on a river, and it’s not on a major highway, this would be giving a new liver to stage 5 cancer patient.” On the other hand, what’s the responsibility of the state for Waldorf and other struggling towns in Greater Minnesota if we don’t bail them out now? The post does not provide an answer, but asks more questions useful to ponder as we read about federal infrastructure funding (that $1 trillion – what’s it for?).

Waldorf, MN

Quick looks and another long walk

Walk: Downtown West, Day 3 lets you follow Max Hailperin around more of downtown (during a warmer season) with more architecture, stories, and details.

Chart: Chart of the Day: New Housing Permits, Minneapolis versus Saint Paul shows Minneapolis outpacing Saint Paul by leaps and bounds.

Map: Map Monday: Population Estimate Map of Minnesota, Earth highlighting “a cool new map website over at the National Aeronautics and Space Aerospace (NASA) that creates population projections of any area you like. Here is Minnesota with its surrounding area, but the cool thing is that you can draw a polygon around any part of the map and it will estimate the population within.”

Links: National Links: Banners, Babe Ruth, and HQ Dreams gives us more carefully curated links from The Direct Transfer from around the country.

Betsey Buckheit

About Betsey Buckheit

Betsey rides her pretty blue city bike, walks her energetic black dogs, and agitates for more thoughtful, long-range decision-making in Northfield, MN. You can follow her blog at