The unusual event began with the observation of two majestic white-headed bald eagles with wings flailing in a neighbor’s grassy backyard on the southeast corner of Diamond Lake in Minneapolis. At 1 p.m. on an October day, the pair lay panting next to each other with wings spread wide and heads held straight up, displaying their curved beaks and wide-open mouths. I carefully approached within five feet with my camera; this elicited only stares from the eagles. It was not normal behavior.
The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota helped resolve the puzzle. The first explanation was that one eagle had made a kill and was protecting its meal from a greedy freeloader by spreading its huge wings over the quarry. However, four hours later, with the eagles maintaining their grounded positions, this explanation seemed unlikely, especially given the downpour that occurred late in the afternoon.
The second explanation came with Alissa, a young, smiling Raptor Center volunteer, who in the pouring rain climbed over a small fence and approached the eagles wearing special gloves and with two cages waiting in her car. This was all it took to break the stalemate, rouse the chilled birds and send them slowly flapping their huge wings to different backyard fence posts. Alissa explained that the two eagles had most likely been engaged in a midair territorial battle and had locked talons, bringing each other to the ground. These eagles were stubborn and had refused to release their talon grips. With the battle over and some time resting on the fence posts, the eagles flew off in different directions.
In this election season, could this demonstration by our national bird show us how to fight hard for our territory, hold on tight with our powerful grips, follow rules and protocols (no gouging with sharp beaks), then disengage, going our separate ways with shared goals and help from wise volunteers? Let’s hope this is the outcome.
Samuel G. Larsen, Minneapolis
OUR SOMALI NEIGHBORS
Fear hides in the shadows, and we Minnesotans must expose it
Donald Trump said in a rally in Minneapolis on Nov. 6 that Minnesotans have “suffered enough” with the “generations of terrorism, extremism and radicalism” brought by Somali refugees. As a Minnesotan and a doctor training to be a pediatrician, I am privileged to call a large number of Somali-Americans and refugees patients, coworkers and friends. I found them to be some of the most beautiful, resilient Minnesotans. These Minnesotans have suffered. They have endured war, famine, rape, poverty, torture, lack of medical care, and religious persecution. They have fought for their lives to be in America, and our communities are stronger because of their perseverance.
Regardless of who wins the presidential election, Minnesota needs further healing and reconciliation. If we want to utilize the creative passions that brought these Minnesotans here, prevent a small minority from radicalizing and joining Al-Shabab or the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, and help those isolated and suffering from traumatic pasts from resorting to violence, entire communities must engage. We must reject a rhetoric of fear and hate, and learn from our neighbors. Eat meals together and share stories. If you don’t know where to begin, search for local groups that are already involved and ask how you can help. Fear hides in the shadows, and we must expose it. Trump said “the whole world knows what’s happening in Minnesota.” Let’s show the world how we can live in peace together.
Billy Sveen, Minneapolis
Political ads notwithstanding, swamps are our friends
As someone who lives on a “swamp,” I think the super PAC Save America From Its Government owes me an apology for its “Drain the Washington swamp!” full-page ads. My wetland, which accepts all the junk modern life throws at it and purifies it into clean drinking water, is my friend. It supports a diversity of species and connects neighbors from a variety of backgrounds who appreciate its mediating qualities. Anyone with a passing knowledge of science knows the importance of swamps to our ecology. They aren’t always appreciated for their unique beauty, but they are an important piece in the health of a community.
Deborah Jindra, Minnetrista
WHO'S IN CHARGE?
Who does Sports Facilities Authority really represent?
Sometimes you have to wonder if the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority and its chairwoman, Michele Kelm-Helgen, are employees of the Minnesota Vikings rather than the people the organization supposedly represents as it does business related to the “people’s stadium” (“Vikings will benefit from public ramp’s new name,” Nov. 7). Their negotiations with the Vikings for the naming rights to the Fleet Farm parking facility begs the question of which side of the negotiation table the authority sits on.
The Sports Facilities Authority and its leader have indicated that money gained from the naming rights was part of a larger negotiations. They can spin things any way they want, but the fact remains that “the city of Minneapolis issued bonds to cover the majority of the garage’s $49 million cost” and it now has only the parking revenue to pay down that bond. The city is stuck holding the bag because the Facilities Authority is either a very poor negotiator or is actually employed by the Vikings.
George Larson, Minneapolis
Are 20 years of jobs worth the risks to our natural resources?
Regarding “PolyMet seeks permit to dig” (Nov. 4): Why do we even have to consider this? It should have been a nonstarter from the get-go. What is the point of risking the natural resources of this great state for only 20 years of jobs with unknown years of remediation? Twenty years from now the miners will be out of work again, and we will be nursing hundreds of acres of nitric acid sullied wasteland. This is madness. Sulfide mining does not belong in this state. The land is more important than jobs because nobody can guarantee adequate environmental protection. We need to keep fossil-fuel reserves underground, and the same goes for copper/nickel reserves as well.
Thomas Thiss, Excelsior
Community radio station’s gig deserved a lot more attention
A Star Tribune freelance reporter spent the whole evening at community radio station KFAI’s The Purple Ones Fashion Show on Oct. 8, doing in-depth interviews with attendees and finding out what the show meant to the designers, audience and the station. It was the first event of its kind that KFAI has attempted to host, and we managed to pull off an amazing evening at the beautiful SPNN (St. Paul Neighborhood Network) studios. I, as one of the organizers of the show and KFAI’s board president, was very disappointed that all the paper chose to print was a short blip about the event along with some photos. I realize that some press is better than none, but our event was much more deserving of a fuller article. We were pretty let down by what got printed.
The Star Tribune should be more supportive to the nonprofit KFAI (90.3 FM, Minneapolis, and 106.7 FM, St. Paul). The station has recently pulled itself out of a huge deficit and has “totally turned itself around” (our auditors’ words); the paper should be as interested in our successes as it was when we were having financial difficulties.
Patti Walsh, Minneapolis