Thursday, September 22, 2011

Please don't let it be an atheist, please don't let it be an atheist*

Religion-hating anarchist  vandalized 7 Edina churches.

Everything I hear something like this, I think, "Oh crap." Now, the gentleman in question does not seem to have identified himself as an atheist, but I bet many in the public will assume that he is an atheist because everyone knows that atheists are religion-hating anarchists. Every. Last. One of us.

Every time someone from a marginalized group does something untoward, everyone else in the marginalized group is asked to explain, atone, and take responsibility. This never happens when, say, a white dude commits a crime. All white dudes don't go around hanging their heads in shame or feeling defensive, thinking, "Man, you're making us look bad!"**

*the above is not a supplication to any sort of supernatural sky-daddy.

**Perhaps this is different when a white congressman sends sketchy texts, but even then, he makes only his party look bad, not all white men, and the party is supposed to answer for it and shun the rogue individual.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

A job is a job is a job

Unless the word "blow" comes before it.

Or it is in the public sector.

At least, this is how I feel when I read or hear the news everyday.

I work in a public institution--a land-grant university, made possible by the Morrill Grant of 1862, and we receive a substantial amount of money from the state government for our operations. As with most large organizations, however, we have a diversified funding base, and we also receive a substantial amount of funding from students and parents, private donors, foundations, grantmakers, nonprofits, and other private sources. We also receive funding from the generation of products, services, and knowledge. We are accountable to all those sources for the allocation of all those dollars.

Lately, I have been feeling like my job doesn't count, and the only jobs that do are in the private sector. And specifically, in the for-profit private sector. Or, if they are nonprofit jobs, then they must be at large nonprofits such as health maintenance organizations or hospitals. Jobs at any government level, public universities, or "heinous organizations" such as Planned Parenthood (yes, a large nonprofit, but clearly one that does not count in the jobs discussion, only in the "declining liberal morals" discussion) are simply not jobby enough to be considered important.

This is what I hear as the Minnesota Legislature and Governor "negotiate" regarding the budget. This is what I hear when Planned Parenthood has to close six out-state clinics because of funding cuts. This is what I hear when a Regent of the University of Minnesota says "I don't think we're doing enough, folks" when it comes to pensions and employees. This is what I hear when, all around the country, people are saying we need to cut government, cut administration, cut, cut, cut.

They use abstract nouns like "government" and "administration," and they don't say "cut education" because that would prove unpopular, but they paint the teacher, the public worker, the civil servant as part of the problem. Overpaid layabouts who are part of an unnecessarily bloated bureaucracy.

It's not up to government, they say, to create jobs. That is the business of the private sector.



And, then, why isn't the private sector creating more jobs?

That's apparently the government's fault, too, because of the tax code and regulations that supposedly hamper hiring.

The women and men in those Planned Parenthood clinics are now jobless. Women and men in state and local governments all over the country are now out of jobs. Cutting budgets means cutting jobs. Doing "enough about pensions and employees" means cutting jobs. If I lose my job because of funding, I have lost my job. It counts. If I lose my job because of funding, I take my son out of day care, and my day care providers lose funding, and they perhaps cut a job; I cut back on expenses, cutting back on funding for the many businesses I patronize. I join all the other people who are out of a job because of budget cuts.

It matters. It adds up.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ignorance is not Skepticism

I am getting a little tired of hearing evolution deniers and climate change deniers calling themselves "skeptics." And I dislike it even more when the media does it.

This is misinformed behavior at best, but really, it's just plain old ignorance. Doubting evolution does not make you a brave warrior for the truth, it makes you a superstitious, medieval serf. Or a republican. Disregarding the overwhelming evidence for anthropogenic global warming does not make you a maverick, it makes you a scientifically illiterate oaf. Or a republican.

I don't know why the republican party is so dedicated to belief-based policies, but its anti-science stance is horrifying. Looking at the two GOP front-runners for office, Mr. Perry and Mrs. Bachmann, I am not sure who is more off-base, but they are an alarming trend in modern American politics, wearing their theology on their sleeves and spouting paragraphs of nonsense rife with the possibility of dangerous policy outcomes.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

What do you see in this picture?

If you say "construction", you are correct.

Here's what else I see. I see people at work. I see an organized mess. I see a large-scale public works operation that will hopefully benefit urban workers and citizens. I see the start of something new. I see possibility.

This is the construction of the Central Corridor Light Rail line, and it has been a bone of contention for years now. But the project is up and running, and we will have a train from downtown Saint Paul to downtown Minneapolis in 2014.

I live on this corridor, just off University Avenue in Saint Paul, and I work on this corridor, in Minneapolis. I live this construction every day, and I love it.

Trains! Who doesn't love Trains?

Universities, Public Radio, Community Organizations, and Business Owners, I guess.

That's a vast oversimplification, but all of the above have valid issues with the incoming Central Corridor Light Rail line currently going in between downtown Saint Paul and downtown Minneapolis. It cuts through a neighborhood that was torn apart by a highway decades ago. It cuts through a major research university that was worried about vibrations and sensitive equipment. It goes past a public radio station that was concerned about its recording studios. It goes down a major avenue, past many small business who will have to suffer through two years of intensive construction and one year of testing before the train is in service.

The process was not always the best, and the above issues have been addressed at least to the point that construction is happening. From my perspective as a citizen who both lives and works on the corridor, I am looking forward to the train. So is my three-year-old son. And my husband, who also lives and works on the corridor. I get that this is not going to be easy; the construction will limit access to businesses on both sides of University Avenue. Once the train is in, on-street parking will be limited.

There is a planning committee looking into how to better utilize existing off-street parking and how to better design the avenue to be user-friendly. There are resources for businesses and citizens. In the end, I hope the train will make things better.

In the meantime, especially during 2011 and 2012, the time of heavy construction, we can stop into these businesses when we need sustenance, energy, and relaxation. Or if we need something repaired or created. This is focused on St. Paul. Add businesses and thoughts in the comments, and I will update the list.

Midway Liquor: a family-owned, family-run, friendly establishment. Lollipops for the kids!
1944 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN

Edge Coffee House: coffee and soup, too! I believe they also have an Irish Trad Music Session there once in awhile. I'll have to ask daddywhumpus.
2399 University Ave, Saint Paul, MN

Twin City Tees: where the Hounds of Finn get their tee shirts.
1952 University Ave, Saint Paul, MN

Lucy Coffee Cafe: new!
North side of Fairview and University, in the Griggs-Midway Building.
540 Fairview Ave N

Fortune Wok: Chinese restaurant. I have not stopped in here yet.
S125 Fairview Avenue North
(651) 287-1881

Second Debut 2: Redundant name aside, this is a cute boutique with designer second hand clothes and accessories for women, a branch of goodwill. The goodwill shop is just up Fairview.
1825 University Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55104

Caffe Biaggio: yummy Italian fare
2356 University Ave W
Saint Paul, MN

Cupcake: coffee, cupcakes, soup, salads, etc., etc., etc.
3338 University Ave. SE.
Minneapolis, MN 55414

Park Midway Bank: my bank
2171 University Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55114
Phone: (651) 523-7800

The Dubliner: my neighborhood bar, often complete with live Irish music, including the Hounds of Finn.
2162 University Ave
Saint Paul, MN

On's Kitchen Thai Cuisine: delicious Thai food*
1613 University Ave W
St. Paul, MN 55104

Turf Club: Local Music! Beer!
1601 University Ave
Saint Paul, MN 55104

Purr-niture: Furniture. For your cat. Winter is coming, and they get bored when the windows close.
2242 University Avenue West

The Town House Bar: The Twin Cities' oldest GLBT Bar.
1415 University Ave. W.

Regina Vacuum Services: they can fix just about any vacuum*
1681 University Ave

World Cycling Productions: for high-end cycling gear*

Salsa Lisa: locally-made salsa. Just eat it. It's excellent.

YMCA Midway: They have a great weight room with excellent machines and tons of free weights, and they're always trying to keep it up-to-date. Staff is super friendly. They have daycare and a pool too! Their basketball court/gym has an old wood floor - super old skool construction, but it's a great court to play on. Lots of good classes to take as well.
1761 University Ave W

Classic Retro at Pete's: antique/vintage store looks a bit like a cheap garage sale from the outside but you have to go inside. The shop owner knows his stuff, and he has some really cool items. Maybe a bit pricey, but if you have the money he does have good vintage furniture and housewares.
2145 W University Ave
651) 224-5235

Hampden Park Co-Op: Off the Avenue, but definitely on the Corridor. A small co-op that is not part of the Co-op co-op, if you like that sort of thing.
928 Raymond Ave

Eden Pizza: a little neighborhood store-front pizza shop within walking distance of our house. They also deliver, lucky us. As we are 1/2 block from the outer limits of Green Mill's deliver, just outside of Leaning Tower, and also outside of the Selby Pizza Luce zone, this is good news. Plus, it's really good pizza.
629 Aldine, St. Paul, MN 55104
Call (651) 646-7616 for pickup or delivery

Caribe: Yum. Caribbean bistro just off the Avenue.
791 Raymond Ave.

Lunch on the Avenue: an ongoing lunch series set up by the Midway Chamber of Commerce.
They are on Facebook as well.

There is a discount program for customers of Central Corridor businesses, as part of the Discover Central Corridor program. You can pick up a coupon book at Cub Foods - Midway, Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, Western Bank, Midway Chamber and Stadium Village Dairy Queen.

You can download a Perks Card app for iPad or iPhone as well.

Construction updates:
Metro Transit: If you are affected by the line, you simply cannot complain about being uninformed of the activities. All you have to do is look. I get email updates regularly from the team, and they are specific and helpful.

Small Business Forgivable Loan: $4 Million in Forgivable Loans Available to Small Businesses Along Central Corridor Light Rail Line

Business Resources: This link includes information about loans, access, zones, and more.

Ready for Rail: a Central Corridor information hub provided by the Business Resources Collaborative.

LRT Works: Trades people seeking work

A few more links relevant to the subject:
University Avenue Business Association

St. Paul Central Corridor Updates

Nice Ride comes to Saint Paul!

New Businesses on the Central Corridor 

*Thanks to my neighbors for these suggestions.