The Jan. 12 article about Minneapolis’ sidewalks (“State of sidewalks brings icy anger”) leaves the reader with the impression that the only thing standing in the way of Minneapolis being a “walkable city” are scofflaw residents and businesses who fail to keep their sidewalks free of ice and snow. My experience is different.

In my North Side neighborhood, most sidewalks are clear and dry; it is the areas for which the city is responsible that are most hazardous for pedestrians. Conscientious residents in corner houses do their best to clear the sidewalks all the way to the curb, but it would take super-heroic efforts to chip through the snow and ice chunks that city plows leave at every intersection. Every alley is a sheet of ice several inches thick — and that ice extends past the sidewalks and into the side streets for several feet in the middle of every block.

Recently, I went to a neighborhood party (four to five blocks away). I could walk only a block (and, on the side streets, just half a block to the alley) before encountering hazardous patches of glare ice or massive mounds of snow. Walkable city? The other neighbors chose to drive to the party that night. Walkable city? Rather than walk the dog around my neighborhood, I drive over to the River Road and enjoy the safe pathways there. (Thank you, Park Board!)

The City Council’s verbiage about making Minneapolis a walkable city is laudable; its commitment to providing streets safe to walk on is pathetic.

Kathi Gialluca, Minneapolis


Legislature could, if it chose, help owners of iPhones and tractors alike

In the Jan. 12 article “Right to repair is latest revolt against tech,” there’s a clear fight between regular people struggling to fix their own things and the big manufacturers that profit from the status quo.

The Minnesota Legislature is considering a smart, simple solution right now: Open up repair by giving people access to the tools and information they need to keep things working. SF 1077/HF 1138 (“Digital fair repair provided”) is ready for a vote right now — but sadly, leadership in the Senate isn’t giving it a fair chance. The chair of the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Finance and Policy — Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls — has refused to give it a hearing for years now.

Environment Minnesota and its allies have also worked on this solution for years, taking input from small repair shops, farmers, tech experts — and the manufacturers themselves. This law would open up repair, allowing small repair shops and consumers to fix things for themselves. It’s very similar to a law that democratized car repair in Massachusetts, persuading manufacturers to agree to similar practices nationwide. That’s why you can usually get your car fixed where you want, not where the dealer tells you to.

Minnesota’s farmers and consumers deserve the exact same choice for tractors and iPhone alike. We hope that Senate leadership supports the right to repair in Minnesota this session, finally siding with regular Minnesotans and common sense.

Tim Schaefer, Minneapolis

The writer is state director, Environment Minnesota.


What I wish for is a more natural reimagining of St. Anthony Falls

The latest proposal for development of the St. Anthony Falls area (“A bold vision for the mighty Mississippi,” editorial, Jan. 17) certainly looks like an attractive reimagining of this most historic area of Minneapolis. Walking promenades, wedding venues, yoga yards and book club picnic sites are all well and good, but I think we have more than enough of these features around town. I’m not so sure investing $100 million for more of these public spaces would be the best use of the area and the public resources.

I remember an alternate proposal from a couple of years ago from American Rivers that called for returning the falls area to a natural gorge by removing the lock, dam, spillway and associated infrastructure and returning this section of river to a natural rapids. What a great idea: a piece of natural, wild river running right through the middle of our city. Such a beautiful sight could be appreciated from the riverbanks, the Stone Arch Bridge, the 10th Avenue Bridge, the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, and the Guthrie Theater’s cantilevered “endless bridge.”

The highly tailored “Wishbone” development would probably require perpetual, extensive maintenance and repairs as seasonal flooding occurs. A natural gorge would only become more scenic as the force of nature works its wonders, all for free.

Lewis Wolf, Bloomington


Bipartisanship suffers

Regarding the new rules for voting in the primary (“A primary concern: Voter privacy,” front page, Jan. 17): I find it strange that not only are we unable to vote for the candidates we support, now we are denied the right because some of us choose not to announce a party affiliation. What ever happened to our voting rights? The right to split our ticket, the right to not be registered to a party. No wonder there is little bipartisan activity.

Kathie Teslaw, Apple Valley


A softball response to cheating

How much will the punishment doled out by Major League Baseball really hurt the Houston Astros? (“Astros caught stealing,” editorial, Jan. 15.) Seems to me if you want to punish the team for cheating by using used electronic means to steal signs from catchers to pitchers during their pennant-winning season, you simply take away their title. Why should any team be able to keep a title throughout history if it cheated to win it?

Carol Keymer, Plymouth


More on the pope and J.K. Rowling

The Jan. 5 commentaries under the shared headline “All apologies — or not” described controversies involving the pope and J.K. Rowling and illustrated two important points. (The pope had slapped a woman’s hand when she grabbed his, and had apologized. Rowling had defended a woman who said that gender is binary and static, and has not apologized.)

First, both defied gender expectations.

The pope’s public apology came swiftly, without caveats or coercion. As a man (and further, as leader of an institution with norms consistent with patriarchy), he is expected to be “right” and, if questioned, to angrily deny and diminish others’ credibility.

Rowling, not “working” to repair social ruptures, is not prioritizing the care and comfort of others. Dismissing this fundamental expectation of femininity has drawn ire, tragically from those who want gender equity, some who seem to take a binary approach toward belongingness (“she is either good or bad”). This infighting is a “useful” tool for maintaining a harmful status quo and introduces my second point.

In their responses, both demonstrate that we all “contain multitudes” (Walt Whitman’s phrase). Rowling can be progressive and say things that hurt gender liberation. The pope can act lovingly and impatiently.

As a social worker and pediatric gender researcher, I know that our beliefs and behaviors are filtered through the “gender ocean” we are always swimming in. I’d invite us all to compassionately explore; how have those assumptions worked for you?

Katie Querna, Minneapolis

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