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.
Last night after seeing a report on the news about our last major factory in the US that makes regular light bulbs (incandescent) closing down and 200 American workers losing their jobs, I did some research.
First of all, it was our own government that caused these 200 US workers to lose their jobs in the middle of one of our biggest recessions, it was also our own government that caused more outsourcing of American jobs, considering that almost all CFL's (Florescent bulbs) are made overseas, mainly China. It was all started with a 2007 energy conservation measure that was passed by Congress; it set standards essentially banning all ordinary light bulbs in the US by 2014.
In many people's minds, our government forcing us to be more energy efficient is a good thing, for me, I don't buy into it. There is only 1 light fixture in my home that uses CFL's and the ONLY reason I even use them there is because it is an old fixture and it burns out too many lightbulbs because of heat. I can't wait for the day, I can replace that light fixture so I can use regular light bulbs again.
I have many issues with CFL's, mainly because of how bad they are for the environment, mainly my son's environment. My son is on the Autism Spectrum. What many of us don't know and don't see is Florescent bulbs flicker, almost like a strobe. We can't see it however many on the Spectrum can and it is almost like them having a strobe light in their room. My son was extremely agitated when I used them in his bedroom lamp, because it too runs hot so, I used CFL's in there. Until I figured it out, he couldn't sleep, he was moody, agitated and aggressive. Once I did some research and figured out what it might be, I quickly replaced his light bulbs with regular ones and instantly, he was back to 'normal'. That was the end of CFL's in our house. So I continued to do more research on CFL's and discovered some things that disturbed me.
Besides them being made almost completely in China, they also contain Mercury. Yes, each bulb only contains up to 5 milligrams of Mercury compared to the old Mercury Thermometers that contains 1/2 gram to 1 1/2 grams of Mercury. (Which for those of you like me, 1 gram of Mercury is equal to 1000 milligrams). OK, well wow, that doesn't seem like too much mercury, however when you think of every household in the United States and all businesses using CFL bulbs, that equals a lot of Mercury back into our environment, not to mention our homes. I live in a very modest story and a half in Richfield, yet just counting my light bulbs on my main floor, I have 22 light bulbs, that equals 110 mg just on my first floor. If I count the rest of the house, I add 34 more lightbulbs adding 170 more mg equaling just in my home up to 370 mg of mercury. Again doesn't sound like much, so I did some research.
I discovered that 1 in 6 US children are exposed to toxic levels of Mercury in the womb, mostly from environmental forms of Mercury such as those found in fish. OK, well, how much does the EPA believe is safe? Well, lets start with another fact first, a can of Albacore tuna contains as much as 52.7 micrograms of Mercury in it. (again for those of you like me, there are 1000 micrograms per milligram) Well, that totally sounds safe, until you read that the EPA says only 3.7 micrograms of Mercury is safe to ingest.
Doing more research, I discovered the GE website and looked under how to dispose properly of a CFL lightbulb. Did you know you can't throw them away like a regular lightbulb? Here is what GE says: "..like paint, batteries, and other hazardous (wait, did they just say 'hazardous'?) household items, CFL's should be disposed of properly." Before you dispose of them, put them in a plastic bag, well that sounds environmentally good, what happens when they take away our plastic bags too?
They went on to say, don't throw them away in the regular trash and if your trash company incinerates, never throw them in there. However, they were nice enough to say that IKEA (only company listed) takes back CFL's and disposes of them for you.
Then, I read about what to do if a CFL breaks: "sweep up, don't vacuum", "place broken pieces in a sealed plastic bag (again that darn bad for the environment plastic bag!) and wipe down area with a damp paper towel to pick up any stray shards of glass or fine particles. Put the used paper towel in the plastic bag as well." Then comes my favorite part! "If weather permits, open a window to allow room to ventilate." What the heck does the room need to ventilate for or from?!
I am sure all the environmentalists feel they are 'saving' the world by making us use CFL's, just like they are saving the world by having us use Lithium batteries and 'electric' cars. Ha, just a quick fact on Lithium people...it is mined mostly in 3rd world countries by child labor! But heck, all is fair in 'saving' the environment! Oh and yes, those electric cars, yes they 'magically' get power by that little outlet in the garage, yes the energy is just 'magic'.
I am all for picking up garbage, using less,,..which us Americans hate to hear, and trying to keep our country, air, and water clean. But it all comes at a price that I am not willing to pay, so keep your recycling, your CFL bulbs, and your Prius's out of my house. I will stick with my V8 SUV, my regular light bulbs (which I plan to stock up on), for those of you wondering, no I don't recycle.
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