The Spencer House

With all of the changes in my life, a big one may be coming.  I recently signed with a realtor to put my house, The Spencer House, for sale.  This is a story on it from nine years ago, updated slightly.

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Us versus Them – Put It to an End

The last week has been hard in the US. It’s been especially hard here in St Paul, the nearest large city to Falcon Heights. That is where St Paul resident Philandro Castille was gunned down at a traffic stop, and the city that has seen the brunt of the protests as his home and the capitol of the state.

More than the horror of this shooting and the protests which turned ugly afterwards, the situation appears to be spinning out of control. For those of us who support the Black Lives Matter movement as well as our excellent St Paul Police there is a lot to be concerned about.

If cooler heads prevail, as they usually do in this city, we’ll be allright. But we have to keep our eyes on the prize and no longer accept the “Us versus Them” mentality destroying our nation.

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Memorial Day

The scraggly oak trees intertwine their branches in a tall ceiling that shades the entire drive. Here, the appropriate view of the eternal isn’t blue and bright, but sheltered and close to the ground.  The rows of marble and granite dazzled by bright flowers have their own quiet redemption as the slow speed limit and a gentle wave from each passerby gives the setting grace.

This is Oakland Cemetery, Saint Paul’s municipal cemetery, founded in 1853.

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Visions for West Seventh

How do you fit all the public amenities needed for a 21st century city into a 19th century street? Some cities benefited from great forethought, like Salt Lake City, and gave a few extra feet here and there for the public realm. Saint Paul, my hometown, wasn’t as generous.

As I have discussed before, I’m deeply involved in the process of considering transit improvements to West Seventh Street. For me, it’s more than just my ‘hood – it’s a very classic street through a neighborhood that demonstrates many of the best things that cities have to offer. Yes, it needs a little something here and there, and should include better transit.

This is a big public decision, and the public has to be involved. In order to communicate not just plans but the thinking behind them, for true citizen empowerment, it’s vital that we get into how this is going.

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Transit in the Twin Cities

Since I started serving on the Technical Advisory Committee for the Riverview Corridor transit project, I’ve had a front row seat from which to view the planning process here in St Paul. This isn’t the first time I’ve served on a group like this, but it is the most intensive and serious effort so far.

As a built urban environment, this is not an easy place to plan transit. Traversing the West Seventh neighborhood is only one problem – it has to cross the Mississippi eventually, which will be expensive.

I would like to tell you what I think is the ideal place for transit from Downtown St Paul to the airport and beyond, but it would be inappropriate. The process that we are moving through seems so deeply flawed that jumping to a “solution” is simply not what is needed. Whatever comes out of this is likely to be inadequate and jumbled.

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People’s Economics

Numbers get boring fast, but people usually don’t. Everyone has a perspective on the world, a way of looking at things earned through their experience swimming through this world which seems to get more in-your-face and crazy every day.

That’s why it’s time to take this show away from the ‘net, a medium that favors numbers and charts, and into a world full of people sharing their experiences freestyle. That’s what People’s Economics is about. The show is set – December 2, 9, and 16 at the Sidhe Brewing Company on St Paul’s up and coming Eastside.

Ready for this? I am! Your chair is still available and the weather looks like it’ll be clear!

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Econ for Everyone!

To keep it 100, economics is boring. But it’s also a study of the way those with money spend it, accumulate it, and keep it. It’s all about how we keep on keepin’ on as well as how some of us gain incredible power.

In the intro to his book “Rules for Radicals”, Saul Alinsky state that where Machiavelli’s “The Prince” was a book on how the powerful can gain more and keep it, his book is for those without power to obtain it. The bottom line is that without understanding the mechanisms of power you have no chance of doing more than throwing a wrench into the works and hoping it hits a weak point.

Barataria is focusing itself on the same principle applied to the mother’s milk of power, economics. The premise is that economics should never be just for those who want to preserve the establishment but for those who want to take it on. And rather than simply write a book we’ll start with a party.

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