mellowtigger: (we can do it)
Over the decades, I've appeared on local news a few times.  It happened again today.

KSTP did a piece for their 10pm news today about the citizen patrols within the Jordan community.  We are occasionally the worst violent crime neighborhood in all of Minneapolis.  We've had recent homicides, and last week we held a community meeting outdoors near the site of one of those homicides.  Some of that footage made the news tonight.

Also, they called me a few minutes before the end of my workday today, and they asked me to come to the community office (rented in a local church) to do an additional interview with KSTP reporter Todd Wilson.  They included some footage from that piece too.



I still intend to write longer articles about the dark side of Jordan.  I'm woken too many nights by gunshots, and we have too many memorials attached to trees on our sidewalks. 

I still intend to write longer articles about the potential to be found here too.  There are many people who want peace, many people who want to build a future rather than wreck one.  There are beautiful old homes, and wonderfully personalized front yards.  I hope that my front yard remains one such eccentricity in Jordan.

For tonight, though, on this too-humid and too-hot night (without air conditioning, whew!), the video segment (local archive) will have to suffice.

busy day

Apr. 28th, 2017 03:50 pm
mellowtigger: (we can do it)
Politics. If you live in the state of Minnesota, please call the office of Governor Mark Dayton now. He's waffling on an important veto. Just leave a message on their answering machine, as I did, and hopefully you can help persuade him. Our state legislature passed a bill that forbids cities from raising their minimum wage or other protections above what's already granted as minimum protections by the state. That's right, the minimum protection would also become the maximum protection. The bill was taken from the corporate group ALEC, in case that's sufficient information to provoke you to action.

It's being called the city preemption bill. You can read the House HF600 text here and the Senate SF580 text here. You can find at this Minnesota Neighborhoods Organizing For Change page the Governor's office phone number and sample text you can speak.  If you use Twitter, you can also use my Tweet's text if you'd like.  I've called.  I've tweeted.  Please add your voice to the swell.

yellow leafed cornGardening. It's literally freezing in Minnesota. I haven't planted my garden yet. On Wednesday  morning, I had a small pile of slush on my car windshield when I drove to work. I should have put a heater on my patio to keep my sprouts from freezing, but I didn't think of it until too late.  I lost a few plants.  On Thursday night, I did put the heater out there, and the plants survived much better.  I think I'll need one more night of extra care for them.

I have a very strange corn plant with leaves that are entirely yellow.  Not variegated yellow-with-green, but just yellow.  It's been growing for 2 weeks, with only a slight hint of green at the very tip of the leaf.  I've never grown an "albino plant" before.  We'll see if it survives to produce any corn this year.

blueberries front yard newly planted or transplantedI've also got a whole row of blueberries in the front yard by the neighbor's fence.  I planted 2 last year, I transplanted 2 this year, and I added 2 more this year to help fill out the row.  We'll see if I keep up with the soil amendments necessary to keep a low pH.  If I fail, and the blueberries die, then I'll just replace all of them with Juneberries.  They're much the same as blueberries, apparently, but slightly taller, and they're not picky about soil.

I'm also concerned that this freezing weather (round 2 of 2017) will keep my apple and apricot trees from fruiting.  I'd be disappointed to have to wait yet another year to see any fruit from them.  Last year, I received them while they had blooms on them, and the blooms fell after the shock of being planted.  Maybe I'll have to wait for year 3 before they produce.

I also asked the city of Minneapolis about rules for building a raised garden in my front yard.  I want a raised bed, so I can grow carrots and leave them planted until they finally produce seeds in their 2nd year.  I learned last winter that where I intended to put the raised garden was completely shaded from our low-on-the-horizon sun by my neighbor's tall house.  The bed wouldn't gather any warming light to keep the carrot roots thawed.  I'll have to put the raised bed in the front yard instead.  I just have to stay 5 feet from the property line, and I have to stay under 4 feet tall.  I've got the area marked, and now I have to buy more bricks to build it.

Security:
I wrote a large check today for the nice fencing that I want. I'm poor again, but it'll be worth it. A month from now, I hope that I have successfully enclosed my yard within a good fence. I'll need to learn how to work with Quikrete concrete, so hopefully I don't mess up anything.  I'm sure that I'll "feel" better with my yard and windows enclosed.  I could also easily get a dog for additional peace of mind, after I have the fence in place.  We'll see how it goes.

Health: My leg has almost stopped oozing.  It's easily pained, though, if anything touches the area where I lost so much skin.  I've had to skip doing much gardening this week, and maybe a week more.  I'm not happy about losing such rejuvenating exercise time.  I definitely heal slower now that I'm older.

I'm looking forward, though, to see what my yard looks like after this season of gardening is done.  It should be even nicer than last year.
mellowtigger: (Daria)
While my car has been parked at my house this year, it has been rear-ended by a drunk driver, nearly-scraped by a doped up driver (who destroyed other cars on the block and a fire hydrant which took months for the city to finally repair), and had the driver side door messed up by someone trying to break into it.

bullet holes in my car last night 2016 Nov 13Now I can add bullet holes to the list.

When the first few bullets were fired around 10:10pm, they sounded like they were practically in front of my house.  I was sitting by the front window, so I dove for the floor and started dialing 911.  Then the second round of bullets were fired, and I realized that the sofa probably wasn't much of a barrier.  I ran upstairs to sit in the bathtub to finish dialing 911.

After confirming that police were on the way, I went outside to start looking around.  It's pitch black here.  We do have street lights on our block, but they are dim and nowhere close to my house.  As police headlights brightened up the area, we discovered that 3 cars had been hit by bullets, including mine.

I gave them permission to get into my car and door to try to retrieve the bullets.  They waited for a crime unit to come out and do the work.  They finished around 1am.  I discovered today in sunlight that what was left of my badly-functioning door was now completely dismantled by police and practically unusable.  I went to my usual mechanic today to see what could be done, but it pretty much needs just replacing completely, which will cost several hundred dollars.  I only have the minimal liability insurance required to drive legally, so that's no help for the damage that other people do.

I've got it scheduled for Friday.  I considered just painting my usual hashtag #WarzoneInMinneapolis onto the door with the bullet holes left alone.  There are plenty of kids on this block, though, and I figure it's best not to add to the background noise of their impression of "normality" in the Jordan neighborhood of Minneapolis.  So I'll get at least one of them repaired.

I was woken up again around 5am this morning by more gunshots, but they were much farther away, so I just went back to sleep eventually.

I woke up after 10am and eventually went out to survey the car.  I talked to another neighbor about the incident.  He was a black guy a few years younger than me.  He mentioned that he'd been shot recently by a paint ball gun by someone driving in a car, and he still had a bruise from it.  Yuck.

When this car is no longer usable, I'm sure I'll rely solely on public transportation from now on.  I figure we're only a decade away from self-driving car services that make private ownership just a luxury.  I might as well join the trend early.  We already have several people at work who always use bicycle or public transport, so I'll be in good company.

For now, though... I'm annoyed by sudden expenses that rich people don't have thrust upon them by strangers during the night.  At least no windows were broken in the car or house.  I think we have another citizen patrol scheduled this week.  I'll be there.
mellowtigger: (we can do it)
I ordered a small chainsaw with my last paycheck, and it finally arrived at the store this weekend.  I used it today, and it's decent for a small tool.  It locked up a few times on the small-ish diameter tree that I cut down, but it accomplished the job. 

tree cut with red stainI tackled the almost-all-dead tree that had already broken off during the big storm many weeks ago.  A woodpecker had used it to house some chicks earlier this year.  I'm not sure what happened to them after the storm and their section broke off.  They were lodged horizontally for a few weeks, caught in branches of other trees until the next storm finally took that section down to the ground. 

After I cut down the main trunk, I saw the red area in the main part of the tree.  If it's just stain from the oil the saw uses, then I would expect all the cross sections to show that red coloration, but only the lower parts of the main trunk did.  Does anyone know what it means?  (edit: Thanks to Litchfield on G+, it seems this red tint is typical for box elder trees trying to fight off a fungal infection.)

tree cut and stacked for firewoodI got the bits cut up into firewood lengths, and I got them stacked in the back yard. 

I bought this house on a homesteading arrangement, and it's starting to look a bit like a homestead, I think.  Slow progress, but steady.

I'm looking forward to the street at the end of the block finally opening after the construction is finished.  It's looking much nicer than prior to construction.  Supposedly there's no new lighting coming with it yet, even though the conduit infrastructure was put in place for it.  I heard at the last Jordan Area Community Council (JACC) meeting that street lights cost about $8K each, and funds weren't included in the reconstruction for all new lighting.  Disappointing, since that street is supposed to be party of the bicycle-friendly network of Minneapolis, but it remains a high-crime area.  #WarzoneInMinneapolis

Still, though, it does look rather welcoming for bicyclists, joggers, and walkers.

26th Street reconstruction in Minneapolis

I look forward to driving to work on that road again.  And maybe taking the bus and bicycling on that route too, if the crime calms down.
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
The JACC council last night voted to officially support the planned Citizen Patrols.  So I created a PDF flyer on my own initiative.  I've already printed copies for every house on my block, plus a few extra.  I've talked with my block leader from the recent National Night Out gathering, and we'll make the rounds tomorrow night to hand out flyers.

training for citizen patrols in Jordan community of Minneapolis

Local citizens donated space for the training class and donated effort to create a new custom logo for yard signs and patrol visibility.  I hope to see the results of their efforts in the coming days.  I'm sure I'll post more info after I attend the class and get ready for our first patrol.  We hope that local government and news outlets will finally take an interest in our community.  The police in attendance at our safety council meeting seemed to agree that community patrols are effective at changing crime in the neighborhood.  We are hoping for a more peaceful future.

#WarzoneInMinneapolis #TakeAStandCeaseFire
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
Jordan is one of the neighborhoods of Minneapolis (maps). The crime here is bad in 2016. It was so bad August 9-15 that many of the confirmed 17 shootings of Minneapolis happened just within Jordan. Gunfire here is common, as you can tell from the Shot Spotter activations on the same map. I was woken twice this weekend by gunshots.

Too many people have died here recently. On my walks, I've started recording the memorials that I see. I haven't visited all of Jordan yet, just those areas within a few blocks of my house. Each of these memorials represents someone who was once a family member and a resident with a role in their community.  Now they leave a hole in the lives of family, friends, schoolmates, and co-workers.

Each of these deaths was unnecessary and avoidable.

I'll leave these images for visitors to ponder.

Location and Date Of PhotoMemorial Photo
Logan and 26th
2016 08 14
memorial at Logan and 26th in Jordan of Minneapolis
Penn and Lowry
2016 08 14
memorial at Penn and Lowry in Jordan of Minneapolis
Morgan and 30th
2016 08 21
memorial at Morgan and 30th in Jordan of Minneapolis
Newton and 30th
2016 08 21
 
memorial at Newton and 30th in Jordan of Minneapolis

I'll update this page as I find new memorials, but only those within Jordan.  I pass other memorials on my commute to work, but they are outside the range of this neighborhood.  All of them leave an influence on the minds of those who live here.

The Jordan Area Community Council (JACC, also found on Facebook) will soon begin citizen patrols.  Paraphrased from one of the organizers, "No more meetings, no more discussions, no more vigils.  It has to stop now.  Take a stand; cease fire!"  We begin training next week for citizen patrols.

#WarzoneInMinneapolis #TakeAStandCeaseFire
mellowtigger: (Pride)
I came out at work this morning to the whole tri-state chapter where I work.  It was no small feat, since it was even my normal day off.

They were having their monthly staff meeting, but it was pre-empted this time by a planned discussion of recent emotional news.  Since our last staff meeting, there was the mass shooting in Florida, we had another black man die by police last week in our Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area, then there was the sniper in Texas shooting at police, the Bahamas issued a travel advisory to their citizens that warns about travel to the USA and police ruthlessness there.  And finally... 4 blocks north of me on Friday morning, 2 children were shot and 1 killed in just another daily shooting here in the #WarzoneInMinneapolis where I live.

So... we were sharing our thoughts at work on these emotional events.

I came to work on my day off because I was expecting to help give a presentation on our move to Skype For Business as a communication tool.  Instead... I shared the story that I was one of those people for whom the police are not always and automatically "the good guys".  I explained that I am gay, and I am just old enough to remember when the police would come into a small-town Texas gay bar for no good reason.  The music would shut off, the house lights would come up, and silence would permeate the air.  Then several cops would walk into the bar, walk around the entire place, with not a sound uttered by anyone... until they walked back out and life would resume in the bar.

I never really hide it, but I am now officially "out".

I mentioned that the police on campus at Texas A&M University once successfully changed how they are perceived.  They simply separated the car ticketing staff (gave them different uniforms too) from the other police staff, and suddenly detectives on campus were able to get cooperation as they sought public help in solving thefts and other crimes.  There was so much built up hostility to police prior (because of rampant parking fines) that the community wouldn't cooperate for any issue.  The police learned a better way to manage themselves, then the community cooperated.

I also mentioned that I live in one of the dangerous parts of the USA, and I've been woken up at night by gun shots, including death threats issued at the neighbors outside my bedroom window.

I'm still not sure what to do about the violence here and elsewhere throughout the USA, but I feel reassured that other people are committed to the idea of de-escalation rather than the spiral of threats and violence.

For once, I don't worry about any retaliation at work because of coming out.

Know that change is possible.  I've seen it happen before.  We can make it happen again.
mellowtigger: (Green Lantern)
front yard after wateringI walked onto my front porch this evening, and I immediately noticed how pungent it was. I've kept the windows there open for ventilation since I will remain without air conditioning for a few more weeks.  They really let in the smoke from whatever the neighbor teens were smoking. I don't mind that, and I support total legalization. This is the house with the death threats that woke me up a week or two ago, though, and I just hope the drama isn't related. That, I don't support at all.

I started weeding the strawberry and flower beds, then the guys left their house to go walking. I watered the front yard while the sun slowly dropped farther below the horizon.

Meanwhile, a few houses south, I could hear a guy trying to discreetly (not shouting, thank you) chew out someone, regarding what I think was the drama a few nights ago where someone drove their car very slowly and backwards down the whole length of the street, scraping many cars along the way and knocking over a fire hydrant.  Yes, I called 911 for that one too.  Strangely, they missed my car this time, but the officer came to my door and gave me a case number just in case I noticed something later.

Anyway... back to this evening.  The older guy (almost my age? from the house I mentioned above) walked over and talked with me for a few minutes while I was watering plants. They're getting rid of stuff for an upcoming property inspection. Indeed, they are, as I noticed on my patio.  I let him know that I planted the strawberries along the sidewalk because I intended for people to pick them and enjoy them.

I'm hoping that a foraged snack might add a non-zero amount of peace to someone's day, making the drama and the self-medication a little less necessary.  I wonder if I could surround the plants with green bricks and call them a "Greenstone Grocery", then get other neighbors to do the same, slowly turning the area into an appealing place for a neighborhood walk.  Imagine a stroll while eating a strawberry here, a blueberry there, a mulberry across the street.  Or, all this stuff just makes me an appealing soft target. I binge watched 4 seasons of "Orange Is The New Black" during the last few days, so I'm feeling pessimistic again about the harm that people do to other people for no good reason.

But I have strawberries.  The dwarf sunflowers are starting to bloom, and the pumpkin vines are poised to sprawl across the front yard. So let's just agree that life is good for the duration of a sunset today.  And hope that I don't get woken by nearby sirens again after midnight tonight like I did last night.
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
Wow, it's hot and humid here, especially when you don't have any air conditioning.

heat index 39C/103FYesterday was especially bad, with the humidity pushing the heat index to 39C/103F according to WeatherUnderground.  I think the air temperature yesterday made it to 34C/94F, and it didn't cool off very fast last night.  

I spent several hours this morning tearing down my computer system and desk then moving it all into the basement which remains cool. It wasn't my first choice for placement, because the basement is unfinished, dark, short enough that I have to duck occasionally, humid, and always a collection point for radon... but at least the space is pleasantly cool.  It's still jungle weather outside today, but here in the basement is comfortable.

The other issue this week is the gunshots.

Even during winter, an old lady neighbor stopped her car to say hello to me one Sunday morning.  She asked if I heard the "rumble in the jungle" the previous evening.  Yes, I did.  Even during subzero (fahrenheit) temperatures, there are gunshots here.  It just gets worse in the hot weather.  About a month ago, I started using the hashtag #WarzoneInMinneapolis when I post about it on G+.  I had no idea before moving here that any part of Minneapolis endured nearly daily gunfire.

Finally, the front page story in the local Star Tribune newspaper this week used a similar headline, calling it a battle zone.

"Eighty percent of those — 105 victims — were shot in the Fourth Precinct on the North Side",  and "that week, ShotSpotter was activated in the precinct 118 times.
- http://www.startribune.com/mom-of-wounded-10-year-old-describes-life-in-the-battle-zone/382179041/#1

Yes, that's 118 gunfire incidents during a single week and only within a small part of Minneapolis.  And that headline hit the newspaper the morning after I was up after midnight because of a gunshot incident (3 different bursts of gunfire) about 2 houses away behind my house. Also making recent headlines was the battle which resulted in police finding 48 shell casings.  And I was driving to pick up some plants one weekend morning last month, and right in front of me a pedestrian was assaulted by a guy with brass knuckles who then jumped into the getaway car beside me to drive away.

It's a little nuts here, obviously.  It doesn't seem to be a priority with Minneapolis City Council because, well, it's not all of Minneapolis that's affected, just a few neighborhoods in the poorer parts of town.

So I'll continue using the hashtag #WarzoneInMinneapolis until the bad publicity convinces them to make it their priority.  I pay taxes too, and I want this neighborhood to improve to the safe and pleasant community that I know many of us here want it to be.

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