I hate the thought of fourplexes plopped helter-skelter on any old block of the city. What I might not hate is tiny houses. Help me think it through.
The reason I love my 40-foot city lot is that it gives me my own piece of ground: a little green (or white), a garden, play space for the grandkids, a place to put down a lawn chair and share a beer with the neighbors, a place to store my car (until the kids take away my keys) and bikes, and something to decorate for the holidays. My four walls also give me as much privacy as I want.
Why not explore dividing some 40-by-120-foot lots into smaller pieces with smaller homes? It might work. A tiny house does not need a big lot. With thoughtful architectural planning and smart zoning, you could fit four houses on a lot. You could even line garage or storage units along the alley. Most people will need cars for years to come or at least a place to put bikes and lawn chairs. Put a basement under the tiny house (it could be larger than the house itself), and the tiny house is not that tiny anymore.
Who would buy them? Me, for one. Our “big” house is almost the smallest one on the block. Still, except for all the accumulated memories, it’s roomy. Besides, the garden will get too big as my back gets more bent. A tiny house on a bit of land with neighbors looks like a good downsizing alternative to an apartment or high-rise. Singles, single parents and couples might see them as starter homes. Affordable homes on 40-foot lots are getting more scarce.
Most important, make these tiny homes real homes with a bit of land, a mortgage and the opportunity to build equity.
John Widen, Minneapolis
The role of men in this debate (and the role of the court)
I have seen a lot of men commenting on what women can and cannot do with their bodies, especially with their reproductive organs. This may be controversial to say, but as someone who has had a uterus for 26 years more than every cisgendered male out there, I think I know a little bit more about what people with uteri are able to do — and we are every bit able to make our own decisions about our own bodies, including situations involving abortion. If a dead person has every legal right to not donate their organs to save a living, breathing adult human, then I should have the same legal right to not donate my entire body to fetal tissue.
Mari Gades, St. Paul
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Contrary to a July 5 letter writer’s implicit claims, Dred Scott (Scott vs. Sandford, 1857) was never overturned by the Supreme Court. It took the 14th Amendment (and a bloody Civil War) to change that.
Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896) has never been explicitly overturned by the Supreme Court (albeit subsequent decisions have eroded its sway).
Abortion has not been illegal for “several thousand years.” Even in the U.S., the first laws concerning abortion were passed in 1821.
And Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution (tinyurl.com/usc-3-2) does not provide Congress with the power to “overturn and vacate Roe.”
Arne Langsetmo, Robbinsdale
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It’s a good thing the Supreme Court doesn’t have to worry about “science, Greek philosophy, Roman law, the church, the Bible, English common law, the Magna Carta, and the Mayflower Compact,” as the July 5 letter writer proclaims. What a mess it would be if it did.
Erik Duxstad, Eden Prairie
That letter sounded like satire. But did the early Christians?
How interesting that a letter published July 4 (“Of course we should abolish ICE, open borders, sacrifice eagerly”) — an attempt, I’m sure, to be sarcastic — outlined exactly what the early Christian church stood for: not only welcoming strangers into our homes, but for the rich to give of their wealth to help the poor and for all of us to share what we have. Gee, maybe the writer wasn’t being sarcastic after all.
James Bettendorf, Brooklyn Park
‘AMERICA STILL WORKS’
Except for this …
The July 4 editorial (“Fifty years after ’68, America still works”) documented the resilience of our country. But it overlooked a fundamental change in our democracy that presents a threat to all that we have accomplished. The addition of millions of dollars to political campaigns has resulted in elected officials looking to the desires of contributors rather than the opinions of their constituents. Eighty percent of Americans oppose the effective end of political contribution limits, but we are not being heard. We are moving toward an authoritarian oligarchy that values “pay to play” over what our citizens want to see done. We are beginning to understand what is happening. Sixty-eight percent of Americans believe that our democracy is getting weaker, and 50 percent believe the country is in real danger of becoming nondemocratic and authoritarian. The Economist recently downgraded the U.S. from a full democracy to a flawed democracy. In order to pass a democracy along to our children and grandchildren, we need to let our legislators know how we feel and exercise our power at the polls.
George Beck, Minneapolis
CATS AND BIRDS
A fencing alternative
I very much appreciated the July 4 article “Birds have cause for cat-sternation” and wanted to mention that cat fences and outdoor enclosures are increasingly more common and affordable. Our neighbors installed special springlike extensions to their pre-existing fence that prevents their cats from escaping the yard. The cats thoroughly enjoy exploring their backyard, are safe from other outdoor hazards and no longer bring back dead-bird “gifts” to our neighbor’s back door.
Ann Pennington, Minneapolis
DOGS AND FIREWORKS
A message from Doug’s dog
This has been a really horrible week for me. It’s the Fourth of July week. For some reason humans get a big kick out of really loud noises and things that go BANG! Those noises make me anxious and afraid, and there seems to be no escape from the BIG BOOMS, no matter what room I go into or what bed I hide under. And then when the actual July 4 arrived I was driven totally nuts and so were my brothers and sisters everywhere. What’s wrong with you humans? Shouldn’t you be beyond enjoying loud noises? Geez. Give a poor dog a break.
Odie, aka Doug’s dog.
Doug Williams, Robbinsdale