I have been reading all of Lori Sturdevant’s columns about the urban/rural divide, including “Neglected: The path to winning rural votes” (Nov. 27). I wonder if residents of outstate Minnesota ever think about “the right to be urban”? By this I mean:
1) Supporting common-sense gun control legislation — our kids are dying in the streets! How do we convince hunters that we are not trying to take their rifles away?
2) Start seeing our lakes, streams and rivers as belonging to all Minnesotans — that we need more than “common-sense management.” It is ironic that the commentary headlined “Water quality: A Minnesota Maelstrom” was directly above Sturdevant’s column in the Nov. 27 Opinion Exchange section. Gov. Mark Dayton fought tooth-and-nail to get the grassy buffers legislation passed, but then it was gutted by rural legislators. Where is the sense of shared destiny in that? How can anyone justify the “dead zone” caused by agricultural runoff into the Red River? I am extremely skeptical of the long-term sustainability of large-scale industrial agriculture, and if farmers are overplanting, tearing up native prairie in the process, I have no sympathy for low commodity prices. Urban people are subject to market forces all of the time, with job layoffs, consolidations, etc.
3) Transportation and education funding — at an affordable price. Is that code for “we expect the people in the densely populated areas of Minnesota to subsidize us”? I have read somewhere that Minnesota has the eighth-highest mileage of paved roads in the U.S., but of course we don’t have the population that reflects that. So, is what outstate Minnesota asking for really sustainable? And, yes, we sympathize with small communities that have to close and consolidate schools, but what are the alternatives? It just isn’t possible to offer all of the services in a small school that are on par with a large urban school.
Most people living in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester or Duluth have roots in small rural communities. Can those in outstate Minnesota make the same claim? How do people in small communities inform themselves about issues that affect us here in the cities, if they do at all?
Catherine Fuller, Edina
COVERAGE OF WATER-QUALITY ISSUES
Star Tribune seems enamored more of elite than oppressed
Some print editions of the Star Tribune are worth keeping because the story layout reflects an incredible bubble mentality and white privilege extraordinaire. Great that Becky Rom is fighting to preserve the Boundary Waters from the environmental harm copper-nickel mining poses. But presenting her story as the lead story on a Sunday (“Loved and loathed, she’s drawn line in BWCA,” Nov. 27) with a large color photo of Rom in a canoe, then continuing coverage inside with a full-page color layout and more charming photos of her? Ahem … individuals from tribes all over the U.S. are gathering at Standing Rock to protect land and water from the Dakota Access Pipeline; they are not getting anything near this kind of reporting. We see Rom as a teenager on the cover of 1965 Minneapolis Tribune Picture magazine, wearing a little red beret and paddling her canoe, and Rom today in her office mulling over a map. We read about Seventeen magazine publishing a story of her making muffins with blueberries gathered from the wilderness — goodness, how exotic!
Where was the paper’s feature story on its largest circulation day about individual leaders from tribes fighting at Standing Rock, and their achievements over the years — achievements attained under much less privileged circumstances. Turn to page A8 for a full-page spread, sort of — ads off to one side, black-and-white photos. The story “A trail of broken treaties” leads, and below the fold there’s “Trump has stock in pipeline’s builder.” The day before, historical reporting about privileged men (Eric Sevareid and others) having brief contact with tribes and taking really long canoe trips got Star Tribune ink (“Yesterday’s news: Canoeing with the Ojibwe”). Seriously, editors, ask yourselves if somebody from another demographic was doing what you are covering, would they get so much press? Histories of privilege and atrocity; repeat, repeat, repeat.
Julie Risser, Edina
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Thank you for the recent excellent coverage of Standing Rock, including “A trail of broken treaties” from the Washington Post, and Star Tribune reporter Chris Serres’ Nov. 29 account “Defiance, prayer at Standing Rock.” They are difficult reading and leave me sad. Not for the Standing Rock Sioux. Not for all the Native American tribes that have had their treaties stepped on. But for my country, the United States. So little regard for our word, expressed in our treaties. So willing to do the expeditious thing as decided by an army of engineers. Not by respectful diplomatic discussion with a sovereign nation as we might do with Canada or Mexico.
It’s really not a complex story. It has two parts. The first is our belief in the rightness of want — if we want it, we should have it, even if it means pushing around what is seen as a powerless neighbor. The second is our belief in the magic of promising words of corporations. Reassuring words that the pipeline will not leak because it is made of extra-thick steel. And we nod. No, the company would not risk leaking oil into the Missouri River, a major clean-water source not just to the Sioux but to millions of Americans. And yet Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline company, agreed to move the pipeline route away from Bismarck because the more powerful city of Bismarck was afraid of a leak. Dim grows the shining light on the hill.
Barbara Draper, Minneapolis
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On Sunday, American military veterans will deploy in North Dakota to extend solidarity to the Standing Rock Sioux water protectors enduring extreme repression at the behest of profiteering fossil-fuel interests that shamefully put getting rich above others’ basic rights and safety.
In their call for action, the veterans’ group stresses the following: “First Americans have served in the United States military, defending the soil of our homelands, at a greater percentage than any other group of Americans. There is no other people more deserving of veteran support.”
Dog attacks, rubber bullets fired at faces, water cannon use in freezing weather, chemical spraying, exploding canisters that have torn apart human flesh, etc., are being ignored by major media.
The upcoming veteran presence will lift the veil behind which intolerable conduct condemned by Amnesty International and the United Nations is occurring on an ongoing, brutal basis.
Dennis Rahkonen, Superior, Wis.
‘A MINNESOTA MAELSTROM’
Family property transfers allow water-fouling practices to go on
In response to “Water quality: A Minnesota Maelstrom”: an excellent commentary. Let’s not forget that in Minnesota when you sell your lakefront, river front or any property between family members, you do not have to upgrade your septic. My farm in Ogilvie on the Groundhouse River, on the Snake River watershed, has five neighbors dumping their septics into the waterway and groundwater, all intrafamily sales. In short, it is legal to dump septic waste into waterways and groundwater as long as your family has always dumped that way.
Nancy Lunzer, Ogilvie, Minn.