The city of Minneapolis has a current population of 416,000 which is predicted to grow to 465,000 by 2040 and so created a draft policy plan called Minneapolis 2040 to address the issues of this increase in population by developing a long range strategy. Until July 22, 2018 they are asking for comments on the draft at their website: minneapolis2040.com. You will find the menus, draft plan use and built form maps at this address, links to various sections with an opportunity to comment etc.
I have made a few comments, by no means adequate for the challenges we have ahead; but perhaps our contributions will steer a course we can be proud of in the years ahead.
Please post your comments at the above website for the Minneapolis 2040 Draft Plan.
On Land Use
There needs to be a designation of areas that have high water tables such as parts of Linden Hills and a corresponding modification of building codes to prevent the drainage of these freshwater aquifers into storm sewers, sidewalks, streets and other drainage areas throughout the summer and sometimes into the winter months. The codes, as they stand now, allow for the building of basements into water tables and underground running streams, in areas which were historically part of Bde Maka Ska for example.
The depletion of these water reserves will affect the health of avian populations, canopy, local climate and the health of our lakes.
On Urban Environments
The development and conservation of our canopy cannot be overstated. It is priceless: worth a lot and should not be for sale. In other words, we need to preserve sooner than replace, if at all possible.
Too many old trees are being cut down at the prospect of any threat, when maintenance, especially good hydration might save them. An old tree can stand the threats of global warming much better than a sapling and it will take more than a 100 years to replace some of the elms and ash that are being taken now for lumber and chip wood under the threat of Dutch elm disease or Emerald ash borer.
Trees, such as these, standing over 70 to 100 feet high harbor species of all sorts, sometimes over 200 different kinds. How long will it take a sapling planted today to replace a towering old tree, as the earth becomes more and more hostile to every living thing? Not only this, what of the difference an old tree can make of the climate under its boughs? The temperature difference can be 10 degrees or more and the air quality is phenomenal. Anyone who has stood under an ancient white pine can testify to the difference.
I hope the city of Minneapolis protects the canopy we already have as they build for a better future.
Concerning transportation equity, a big issue, it would make sense to make this available to all, paid for through taxes. No one should be denied a ride and the options should be many. In fact, we need to make it so easy and so much better than driving that everyone will opt for public transportation.
As it stands now, the buses are uncomfortable, jerky and can be extremely unpredictable depending on the route. The light rail from and to St Paul takes, practically speaking, as long as the bus ride. If one bus is missed or doesn’t arrive, there may not be another for an hour, leaving one with no option but to get to work late and possibly lose a job. Some people are handicapped, or carrying groceries or children, infirm or unprepared.
What would all-around premier public transportation look like to address all kinds of passengers? What would the transports look like that everyone would want to take and no one would be denied, rich or poor? Wouldn’t it serve us in the long term to make this happen sooner than later by starting to divert highway funds in increments to make public transportation the priority with low carbon, no carbon systems the goal?
On the Arts
Guaranteed income for everyone. This will allow the time for creative talents of all our community members to be focused individually and uniquely, often to society’s benefit, without being overly concerned about making money. Where there’s time and freedom, there is creativity.
In order to prevent homelessness we need good education for all, opportunity for all and equity in housing and the job market; but it all starts with a good equitable education. Taxes for public education should be divided equally throughout the city so that no one needs to be bused to another neighborhood in order to have a good fighting chance. There should be no “best schools”. All schools should be the best we can make them.
Counselors should be available that recognize difficulties early on in a child’s life so that help can be given. We need experienced teachers who are respected and allowed to do their best, not trained to tests and dogmatic views, teachers who are well versed in interpersonal relations as well as good academic skills with respect for diverse opinions and equity.
Funds should be available for adequate resources at the most vulnerable and impressionable time in a person’s life, childhood. Teachers should not have to buy supplies for their students. Texts should be available for every child. We will get more from each dollar by spending the bulk of these dollars when the potential for benefit is greatest.
When our communities are diverse and equitable, our schools will be diverse and equitable and vice versa. When this happens, there will be less risk of homelessness and greater potential that communities will work together in solidarity for the betterment of those in the communities they love, making homes where homes are needed.