ART IN THE CITY

Let it flourish

Sky Christin Satterstrom bemoans the use of the Stone Arch Bridge for an art exhibit (Opinion Exchange, July 21). Her column notes that "this was not fair to anyone who uses the Stone Arch for its intended purpose." Worse, it was a "corporately sponsored event."

I ask people to remember that Minneapolis is known for many things, not only its high percentage of bike commuters. We also are known for our support of art. Much of our art is sponsored by corporations. The bikers were inconvenienced -- slowed down -- for 10 days during the setup and display of the photographs. It is not unusual for public facilities to be used for multiple purposes. Parades and block parties close streets. Fireworks displays close entire areas of a city. Bicycle rallies such as the St. Paul Classic close entire networks of roads.

During the photographic exhibit, the bridge reminded me of the Pont des Arts in Paris, a marvelous pedestrian bridge that often hosts art exhibits.

The "intended" purpose of the Stone Arch Bridge was railroad tracks. That purpose has evolved. If evolution brings us public art exhibits, I'm all for evolution. The transportation route across the bridge, though intelligently designed, may just have to endure an evolutionary adaptation once in a while. C'est la vie, et vive l'art!

JEFF SMYSER, MINNEAPOLIS;

URBAN PLANNER

WHAT WOULD HE HAVE DONE?

Barkley's critique

Dean Barkley had some very interesting comments to make the other day in his letter to the editor ("Soaring gas prices / Same old politics," July 22). He described very neatly the shortcomings of both the Democrats and Republicans in Congress and how they artfully lay blame on the other party.

The problem with his letter is that he failed to indicate what he would have done were he in Congress in the given situation he laid out. In the end, Dean did no more than blame the others, which seemed to be the point of his own angst.

DALE J. JERNBERG, MINNEAPOLIS

OIL PRICES

Speculating on supplies

Every day I read people's comments on how U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's plan to lower gas prices by increasing our domestic output is a fantasy and isn't based in reality.

Does anyone else see a correlation in the recent drop in oil prices and President Bush's reversal on the moratorium on new exploration off the continental shelf? Sure, there were other major factors to help push oil down, but the price of crude is based on speculation of future oil supplies. That's why oil prices increase when speculators see there could be trouble in Iran in two or three years.

Even though we won't see any gas being produced from new exploration for years, the impact on the market and the speculators would be swift, and welcomed by our struggling middle and lower class. Thank you, Michele, for standing up for us!

JUSTIN LARSON, BIG LAKE, MINN.

Salutary side effect

The reason crime is down is because gas is up. It is hard to do a drive-by shooting without gas.

KEITH BUSKOVICK, MINNEAPOLIS

FOOD AS A RESOURCE

The free-market fallacy

I was struck dumb by your July 21 lead editorial, "Food: a resource to manage wisely." The idea that these two grain-processing megacorporations exist in a free market is a fallacy that they'd like the rest of us to believe. The deep thinkers at the Strib were impressed by these executives' grasp of the complicated issue of getting food on the American table.

What were the "takeaway messages" of this roundtable? First, we learned that food will be plentiful but little can be wasted if we are to be able to afford it. Productivity must increase while efficiencies of production can increase yields. Consumers will have to mimic these giants of the grain industry in their free-market efficiencies by purchasing half a pie to cut back on waste. Technological innovation in the form of genetically modified seeds will help reap more and more from an acre of land. Let the free market work its "magic."

Was there any talk of sustainability? Is the genetic modification destroying natural stocks of native seed that has taken millennia to evolve? Does this new seed have resistance to herbicides to enable the increased use of petrochemicals, thereby leaching more and more contamination into our lakes and rivers? Did anyone question the continued use of the American model of mechanized, chemical-intensive, monoculture farming that is destroying our oceans and has already endangered much of our drinking supply? Did anyone notice that we are pushing this model on the rest of the world, particularly Third World nations through the direction of the World Bank, and are destroying their societies, depleting their inadequate soil and changing once sustainable cultures into fertilizer-dependent, erosion-susceptible models that have no chance of long-term success but offer short-term markets for seed, fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides for the American multinational ag giants?

No, they didn't. But they did say that higher prices will be good for us. It will make us be better consumers of this precious resource we call food. Oh, and don't forget, those higher prices will make those mega producers and distributors a lot richer as well.

How can the Star Tribune participate in this forum to justify these ag giants' big profits while telling ordinary consumers to tighten the belt as their environment is being ravaged by unwise agricultural practice? You have become shameless in your pandering to business while abandoning the protection of the consumer. Congratulations.

WILLIAM PAPPAS, STILLWATER