This morning I was reading the paper online and found an article that hit home with me. http://www.startribune.com/local/west/112352039.html
This article talks about Edina residents that have been talking about needing to be more pedestrian friendly around parks, schools, and in some neighborhoods. I don't live in Edina, I live in Richfield, but on the Edina border near the Southdale/Galleria/SuperTarget area. I do agree with this article in many situations. I believe in our hurried up world, large traffic jams, etc we have made many neighborhoods short cuts to avoid hwy 62, 494, 35W, 100, etc. As a result, we see increased traffic on France, York, 66th Street, 70th Street and more. In fact many of those streets have gotten so much busier over the years they have become extremely dangerous for pedestrians or bikers to try and cross, many of these roads are even scary to maneuver in a car!
In my neighborhood we have fought with Richfield AND Edina City Councils to try and get stop signs to make it safer for our children to cross the street to go to the park, ride their bikes and for the many elderly residents that live on the Edina/Richfield border. For years we have been told there aren't enough accidents, enough people getting hit and enough traffic, I beg to differ. I have, as many of my neighbors have, personally seen too many bikers (so far all adults), car accidents and pedestrians(again all adults) get hit on Xerxes right behind Cub Foods Edina because it is used as a short cut to avoid traffic. However, the Edina/Richfield borders split Xerxes right down the middle so each city tells us their hands are tied and to contact the other city. On my road, I have seen way too many close calls of my own children almost getting hit by cars coming fast around corners or over our small hill knowing there is no stop sign, so they don't even slow down to look for people or bikes.
I avoid France Avenue between Crosstown and 494 like the plague even in my car, because of how crazy busy it is and how hurried people seem to be. I used to walk the 3-4 blocks to Target with my children when they were younger, but now that they are older, we have to drive. When they were younger, they were in a stroller so I could run, literally run, across York Avenue to make it across before the light turned red. I think it is crazy how close I live to Target and I have to drive because of how short the walk lights and how busy the roads are. Every day I see the many senior citizens who live in the community narrowly missed by cars as they try to walk or scooter across York to Target or Southdale.
I see the same thing happening in Richfield along 66th Street. I think it is crazy we live only 4 blocks from our local Elementary school and we can't walk to it because 66th Street is so extremely busy and pedestrian friendly. I wouldn't even walk on the sidewalks on that road when my babies were in a stroller because the sidewalk is right up against the road and there are so many businesses and driveways and very rarely are drivers looking for walkers or bikers before they tear out onto 66th Street trying to beat traffic.
I live in an area with a walking score of 88 (out of 100) (Check out www.walkingscore.com to check your own neighborhood.) and we do walk many places, however we could walk to that many more if Edina and Richfield would get over their traffic analysis and just get out of their cars and start walking around the neighborhoods, shopping centers, restaurants, parks, and schools and see how safe things really are. Have them do it over a 6-12 month period, on nights, weekends, and week-days. Have them walk around in the summer, during the school year, and in the winter. If they all live to tell of their experiences, I think they might change their tune on sidewalks and pedestrian friendly areas.
A few years ago Edina had a great comprehensive plan for the area between France/York and 66th and 78th Streets to make it more pedestrian, car, bus, and biker friendly. It was a great plan and included some really good ideas of rezoning, along with some really bad ideas too, but it was a start. I think if Edina went back to the drawing board and started to look at ways to make it safer and easier for their seniors, families, and the rest of the community to get around Southdale/Yorktown/Galleria/Centennial Lakes areas without having to jump into their cars, they would not only alleviate some of the car traffic, they would maybe be able to start bringing Southdale Mall back to life a bit and increase their own 'real' walking score. I also think if they started with a large area like that area, they could use the lessons learned to create safer areas around their entire city near their parks and schools.
Richfield needs to stop worrying about rezoning areas for 'greater density' and give up on silly bike paths that make no sense and start focusing on the youngest and oldest residents and how to make their lives safer and easier since they are the ones that are most affected when they can't walk places.
Being home for a long 5 day weekend with all the children, brought out great things for our family. It brought us closer, we were able to have long, lazy days filled with board games, movies and sledding. We also were able to have good one on time with our 3 school-aged children and find out more about their lives. This one on one time led to us finding out one of our daughters is being teased at school.
As our weekend drew on, my husband and I pieced more and more together and found out our normally very strong, independent, and normally our leader is getting teased at school so much she is wanting to change what she looks like. That was alarming on many points, because she normally doesn't care what she or anyone else really looks like, fashion isn't her thing, style isn't something she has or cares about. So when she told my husband she wanted to change how she looked, we got worried.
A little back story here, we live in a community where we are blessed to live with many different types of people from all over the board. We have higher income, lower income, and middle income, we have blue collar, white collar, high school educated, college educated, we have single parent homes, mixed with multi-generational homes, and every color under the sun. It is great and we love that our family is living around all aspects of people and life. We have also discovered over the years, our children tend to be the minority in many cases because all of them have blond hair and 2 of them have blue eyes. We think it is great they are growing up learning about differences instead of sameness.
Which brings me back to this weekend, our daughter had stopped washing her hair and brushing her hair this year, which isn't too far from the norm considering she has never really cared what she looked like. However, it has gotten really bad and we finally figured out this weekend why. She has been getting teased at school this year for having blond hair by some girls of different backgrounds. Well, our daughter noticed her hair looked darker when it was dirty and messy, so she liked it better that way because she didn't feel so different from the others at school and the girls didn't tease her as much.
This puts us in new territory as parents. First, we haven't had to deal with teasing before and now we are dealing with teasing about how our child looks. As a parent I am crushed she has to even deal with this, especially in 2nd Grade, but then I think back to when we were growing up and you know, getting teased was just part of growing up. I think it is more how the parent handles the child who is being teased than the actual teasing itself. I think teasing is a part of life, children are brutally honest sometimes and yes, my daughter is one of the few blonds in her school. We have chosen to tell her she is unique and special and usually when someone teases it is because there is something they don't like about themselves.
I have no idea why they have chosen our daughter to tease and frankly, don't care. We will do the right thing which is to contact the school, teacher and hope they talk to the parents of the girls and the girls themselves. We hope it stops, but all we can really do is to love our daughter and try and teach her to love herself, no matter what she or anyone else looks like.
Is this what some call, 'Reverse Discrimination' as some people have said? I don't know, all I know is we live in a melting pot and people will always have differences, we are designed that way naturally. I think how our families and society handle teasing is more important than trying to stop the teasing. Life isn't fair, never will be. We aren't supposed to all be the same and we don't deserve sameness. We need to teach our children how to love themselves no matter what others tell them and to hopefully be kind to others and love others the way they would want to be loved.
I am sending my daughter off to school tomorrow morning with freshly washed, brushed and styled hair, her best uniform and hopefully a new attitude about herself and her looks. We have told her she is loved and being different is great. We have told her to imbrace hers and others differences and we have told her, she doesn't have to be friends with those girls, but she does have to be nice to them no matter what. Mostly, we have told her she can come to my husband or I no matter what and she can tell us anything and we will do our best to listen, love, and help if needed.
I am so unsure about how to start this blog or even what I am going to write. I am still in shock, disbelief, and utterly afraid for not only my children, my friends children, my relatives, and my city that I have called home my entire life, even when I wasn't living here.
I was up north recouping from another bout of Pneumonia, just relaxing with my family away from the schedules, school, activities, friends and extended family. We had just put all the children to bed when my husband I decided to watch TV, I almost wish I never turned it on that night. I wish I was still blissfully unaware of what is happening seemingly under my nose in my city, with kids that could have been me or any one of my friends had we grown up now instead of during the 80's.
I am still shocked about the 20/20 story that ran about 3 Suburban Minneapolis kids who were hooked on heroin and my feelings about that story and my emotions are still running in a million different directions. It is almost like I can't or don't want to comprehend what is happening in the city I have loved for so long, in neighborhoods, schools and streets I know well. As a parent, I am terrified, I am shocked, scared, speechless, sad, angry, actually I am beyond angry, I am downright pissed off! I feel like I have been living a lie and I feel like I have been living in the dark. Did you all know that Minneapolis has some of the purest and cheapest heroin in the country?! Right here in our little 'Metropolis' of Minneapolis and our comfortable middle class suburban neighborhoods filled with families, there are children doing heroin. I mean come on, one of those kids was from Wayzata and went to Wayzata high school, another went to a small, private school! I know that shouldn't mean anything as drugs can be anywhere, I am just shocked, shocked, shocked.
Why has heroin tripled in use over the past 3 years in Minneapolis? I know much of it is because of how pure it is and how cheap it is. That purity means it is very, very addictive even if only used once. These drugs terrify me, it means my children, if they make a really bad decision some day in high school or college, will more than likely be screwed up for life. How does a parent stop this from happening? I have 4 children ages 9-2, I am still worrying about how to keep them healthy, do their clothes fit from season to season, teaching them to cross the street and tie their shoes. My oldest child is in 4th Grade and we are now starting to have to discuss the body, changing parts and all, and the 'S' word. (Not sure if I can type that word out for the paper) After Friday night, I realize I am so ill prepared for parenthood and all it has to bring. I can barely grasp the concept of speaking to my children about the birds and bees, let alone things like heroin and prostitution.
As a taxpayer, citizen and almost lifelong Minnesotan, I am pissed off that these drugs are so easy to get in my city. I am pissed off that there are children selling their bodies for a cheap high. I am pissed off at these other parents that don't know what their children are doing until it is too late. I don't watch the nightly news often, I do try to read the paper a few times a week though, how did I not know this was happening here?
As a citizen, I urge you to stand up and start taking back your neighborhoods, start getting involved again with the children in your neighborhood, befriend that only child, that loner child, or the one next door to you with a ton of friends. Get to know your neighbors, we need to bring back community and bring back knowing our neighbors and knowing what is happening in our neighborhood. As a parent, stop being your childs friend, they have their own friends. Speaking of friends, know their friends, their friends families and where your children are going and who they are going to be with. Get them involved in sports, church, and youth groups and volunteer at those places! You don't have to monitor their every move, but you should know their general lives. Make sure your children know that you are a safe place for them. Let them know they can honestly talk to you about anything and then be there for your children when they need to honestly talk to you. I am not sure if these will work, but I believe being involved limits the openings for bad things/people in our children's lives.
I don't know how to change what is happening to our kids in our city and our communities, I only know we should all be scared and we all need to open our eyes. I don't know how to stop your children or my children from doing drugs. The kids in this story seemed to have it all, they were in high school or college, they played sports, they had supportive families and lots of friends. On paper, they just don't seem like kids that would get into heroin. How is this stopped? I have not one answer, only more and more questions all of which upset and anger me. All my questions only make the tight feeling in my chest get tighter when I think of it and the fear I now have of the areas I have always felt safe in.
I hope this blog opens your eyes to our safe little haven we have called Minneapolis, our small town in the big city, feeling we have carried with us and lets you know we are truly now a big city, with big city problems, even in the suburbs. If you would like to watch the story behind this post, here is the link: http://abcnews.go.com/2020/ I haven't stopped thinking of these kids and their families and praying for their recovery, I can't imagine what they and their families have and are going through.
I am going to make this short and sweet because it is Saturday and I am looking forward to enjoying the day outside with my children!
Yesterday I was finally able to make it out to our community garden in Richfield to plant our 2010 garden. It opened last Saturday to planting but, the weather did not cooperate! Today, I am hoping to finish the rest of the planting while still being a mom for a little while today to my children.
We have done a garden in our city's community gardens for about 4-5 years now, it is fun and a TON of work, but when you have a small yard like we do it gives us the opportunity to be able to grow some of our own food. My son is 9 and he loves gardening more than I do. This year, we started most of our plants indoors and had fun watching them all grow from seeds. It is great for children to experience the growth process of a plant from a seed, to seedling, all the way to a fruit/veggie bearing plant.
In our fast paced society of meals from a box or a drive-thru, it is nice for children to actually see where their food comes from and they are much more willing to try new foods if they have grown it themselves! This year my son decided he wanted to try eggplant so, he is growing eggplant this year. I of course have no clue what to do with eggplant, so this will force me to learn something new too. I am also finally going to learn how to can this summer so we can enjoy our harvest well into the winter months too.
Here is a sample of what we are growing this year: eggplant, 4 different kinds of tomatoes, tomatillos, 5 different kinds of peppers, corn, sunflowers, 4 different kinds of lettuce, okra, broccoli, carrots, 2 kinds of peas, 2 kinds of beans, and cucumbers. We are hoping to grow onions, zucchini, and maybe a small pumpkin or squash plant, but we have to wait and see how much room we have left! Even if we don't get any corn, pumpkins or whatever else we still had the experience of working together, learning together, and being together while planting, weeding, and tending to our family garden.
I am amazed at how few of people in my own city even know Richfield has community garden plots for rent let alone my friends that live in other communities. So, I have a website and a map link that will show you where the community garden plots are around our community. Get out there and garden and enjoy the process of growing your own food.
Yes, I am taking a controversial stance but, I am taking it and standing by it. My reason for boycotting St. Paul? Because I think it is crazy that Chris Coleman even got involved in the first place and asked us to boycott Arizona because of their new immigration policies.
Listen, I am NOT anti-immigration, hardly! For goodness sake, my daughter goes to a Spanish Immersion school that is 50/50 Native English/Native Spanish speaking students! I live in Richfield where many of my neighbors from Spanish speaking countries! I am NOT against immigration! My own family immigrated here from Germany and Sweden and we came here for the same reason people are coming here now, to start a better life in a country that is free!
However, this is where some of my issues start...we came over on boats and when my family members got here, there were no interpreters, there were no signs in 7 different languages, they didn't know English and they learned it quickly, just to survive! We were forced to change our last name to be more 'American'. My family then went on to become American citizens legally and we have been American's ever since. We don't call our selves German or Swedish, we speak English and have for multiple generations now. Yes unfortunately through out the years we have lost much of our heritage and our native languages however, we aren't upset or think we were oppressed by it all. We are grateful for the opportunities we have been given here. And for those of you who think it was different because we were 'white', I also had relatives come over from Ireland in the 1800's and they were some of the more hated immigrant groups at that time. Our family lived on to tell about it.
I believe our country is a country based on immigrants, no matter what language they speak, no matter where they come from, or who they are. What is different about our country now is we are often protecting and housing people that are in our country illegally. I understand it is VERY difficult to become a citizen, I don't even know if I could pass the test and classes needed to become a citizen! But, I think what Arizona is trying to do is to stop the bleeding a bit. Is to stop some of the illegal border crossings, the human trafficking that is happening in and around our border towns. For someone from Minnesota to say what Arizona is doing is wrong, we just can't. We aren't there living it daily! We aren't watching on the news or hearing from neighbors about the crime in those towns on a daily basis, on the deaths, the drugs, the gangs and the abductions happening in the middle of the night!
We aren't seeing the huge rises and falls in our schools from year to year, even month to month with immigrant families and children moving around to avoid being caught or trying to find jobs or whatever!
I have no idea what is the right way to go about dealing with illegal immigrants however, I believe and commend Arizona from trying to do SOMETHING about it. They are trying to save their state, they may not be doing it the 'right way' or the way you would like it but, I bet if northern Minnesota cities had even 1/2 of the same issues that southern Arizona is having, we would be doing something about it too.
So for now, I am taking my business elsewhere from St. Paul. Our Children's Museum membership that just ran out, is not being renewed, we will not be visiting restaurants in St. Paul anymore and we will just stay on our side of the river for a while. I feel for the local business owners that have nothing to do with or can control anything that Chris Coleman does or says. Again, is boycotting St. Paul even a right answer, who knows! But, it is an easy way for me to say, I don't agree with what was said and is being done to Arizona.
I have read the Arizona law, some parts, yes it could become a bit hairy by over-zealous police officers but, can't any law? Frankly I think what Arizona is doing is just ENFORCING laws that are already on the books and doing what should have been done a long time ago to help curb crime and chaos that has been escalating in our border cities for a long time now.
If you have a better way for Arizona to try and stop some of the chaos, why don't you take the time, energy and your information and write to the congressmen/women of Arizona, write to the Governor, whomever and let them know your ideas and your solutions instead of what is in their new law. Take matters into your own hands, by grabbing a pen and paper and writing them out.
Here are some addresses for you:
Jan Brewer Governor of Arizona
The Honorable Jan Brewer
Governor of Arizona
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Mayor of Nogales Arizona
Congressman Ed Pastor
2465 Rayburn HOB
Washington DC 20515
Bob Walkup Mayor of Tucson
255 West Alameda Street
Tucson, Arizona 85701