Streets.mn Envisions What ‘Happy New Year’ Means

Now more than a decade old, Streets.mn is produced by passionate people — writers, editors, podcasters and board members who volunteer their time and energies, fueled by a righteous desire to curb climate change, promote affordable and accessible housing, preserve green space, reduce reliance on single-occupancy vehicles, envision small towns and urban spaces that are culturally diverse and economically self-sustaining.

“Better places in Minnesota” is a key phrase in our mission, and so we asked some contributors to share their New Year’s goals for bringing to life the Streets.mn core values of advocating for people-centered, future-oriented, justice-driven and delight-cultivating places.

Some of our contributors shared individual resolutions: to lead group rides for new or women/femme cyclists; to chuck car convenience and use public transit more often; to visit small towns throughout our state.

Others voiced hopes for or outright demands of government and other powerful entities. “I wish that downtown stakeholders could get out of their own way and stop talking about downtown as if it is a suburban mall,” said writer Alex Schieferdecker.

Should they come to pass, these New Year’s wishes — I prefer the word intentions — would produce a safer, more sustainable and more equitable 2023. For us and everyone.

More Inclusive Mindsets and Coverage

Indian Mounds Regional Park, a sacred burial place and favorite gathering spot in St. Paul, recently underwent a cultural landscape study. Photo, Family Fun Twin Cities

“I resolve to be more inclusive in the people I speak with for my blog [which is cross published in Streets.mn]. I plan to seek out Native voices and Hmong and Karen and other immigrant residents of St. Paul to share their stories with readers.”

Wolfie Browender, writer

“I want to invest time and effort to become more knowledgeable about the histories of marginalized people and how those histories intersect with urban planning. In doing so, I want to become more comfortable speaking and advocating on those topics.”

Fran DiCaprio, board member, writer; climate emergency and anti-racism committees

“I want to work to include older people in our analyses of infrastructure, transit, and walkable or bikeable neighborhoods.”

Amy Gage, managing editor, writer

Car-Free Is Care-Free

“I wish for greater support for reducing car-dependency, and moving around our city by walking, rolling, taking public transit or using a car-share. I feel so much more connected to my neighborhood and every place I go when I don’t travel by car and wish more people could feel this way, too.”

Brian Mitchell, board member, writer; technology and podcast committees

“I want to be better about remembering the joys of riding a bike. When confronting the many ongoing failures of St. Paul, especially, when it comes to making bike riding safe, convenient and comfortable, it can be too easy to fall into a negative mindset trap. But ultimately, riding a bike is just an incredibly fun way to get around, and I want to focus on that and sharing that joy with others.”

Zack Mensinger, writer; co-chair, Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition

“I wish that companies running inter-city bus lines — like Jefferson Lines, Greyhound — would install bike racks on their buses so I can visit more small towns with confidence that I will be able to get around easily once I’m there.”

Ian R Buck, Streets.mn podcast host, writer

Finding, Funding More Ways to Get Around

“My wish is for us to continue to find wins, both big and small, toward improving alternative options for traveling around the city and the state, such as prioritized bus lanes, new bike lanes and more BRT [bus rapid transit].”

Christy Marsden, board member, writer, podcast committee

“I’d like local, state and federal governments to fully recognize walking, cycling and transit as integral parts of our transportation network. They need to take these modes seriously, which means fully funding maintenance and improvements.”

Dan Marshall, writer, store co-owner and year-round cyclist

“My wish for government is to see a strong, tangible commitment to safe and reliable transit for all of our residents and visitors. That means 24-hour buses, working hard to relieve the driver shortage and more frequent routes.”

Christina Neel, writer

Government Mandates

“I wish all levels of government would get more serious about accommodating the needs of differently-abled people on streets. This is especially evident when we’ve just had a blizzard, and the usual patchwork of sketchily plowed sidewalks and unplowed crosswalks makes its predictable appearance, but it’s absolutely a year-round thing. Road construction season typically festoons the sidewalks with big orange signs directed at cars while, perversely, making streets nearly impassable for wheelchairs. And that’s to say nothing of the many sidewalks and crosswalks that are inadequate, in disrepair or simply nonexistent. None of these things are OK for a society that claims to treat all people with dignity and respect, and local, county and state governments all have a part to play in rectifying them.”

— Micah Davison, copy editor

I hope to help push our local, state and federal governments to update housing policies and make investments so that we can get more people safely, stably and affordably housed.”

Zak Yudhishthu, copy editor, writer

“I wish that our state and local governments would take seriously the urgent need to lead with empathy and create policies that actually solve the problems affecting those most vulnerable in our communities.”

Lexie Neeley, writer

Infrastructure Improvements

Cycling advocates, environmental groups and area businesses all agree: Extend the Midtown Greenway over the Mississippi River, into St. Paul. Photo, Midtown Greenway Coalition

“I wish that the relevant government entities — Hennepin and Ramsey counties, MnDOT, the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the State of Minnesota — would better prioritize extending the Midtown Greenway across the Mississippi and come up with a plan to extend it to downtown St. Paul. This would be the single most transformative active transportation project for the region.”

Zack Mensinger, writer

“To me, feeling part of a community where we can all grow and be more equitable looks like this: advocating for and supporting more 4-to-3 road conversions, larger and more frequent sidewalks and bike paths, in-city highway removal, massive improvements to public transit, and more mixed-use and higher-density housing all throughout the cities.”

Brian Mitchell, board member

The Last Word

“Since 2023 is a city election year in St. Paul, I’d like to do what I can to help candidates who will support upzoning, density and active transportation. In many ways, local politics are our most effective ways of fighting global problems like climate change and traffic violence.”

Dan Marshall, writer

“My resolution, as the new co-chair with Glen Johnson, is to help make sure Streets.mn continues to be a place where we can help make all of these wishes come true!”

Christy Marsden, incoming board co-chair

Gallery photo credits: Stay Safe, Nick Fewings on Unsplash; bus lane, Metro Transit / Wheelock Parkway, Grand Round, City of Saint Paul; D Line, H. Jiahong Pan, Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder / Road sign, Printablesign.net; sidewalk ice, Streets.mn At top: 2023 image courtesy of Parade.com

Amy Gage

About Amy Gage

Amy Gage is managing editor of Streets.mn. A former journalist, she writes a blog about women and aging (themiddlestages.com) and is executive director of Friends of the Parks and Trails of St. Paul and Ramsey County.

1 thought on “Streets.mn Envisions What ‘Happy New Year’ Means

  1. Jenny WernessJenny WernessModerator  

    I am so glad you wrote this, Amy! Thanks to all the streets.mn contributors for sharing their wishes and intentions here. I’m excited for next year.

Comments are closed.