Tyranny of the beige

In today’s Strib: Houses are breaking free of beige.

After decades draped in monochrome, the suburbs are getting a big splash of color. Propelled by technological advances in home exteriors and public fatigue with the limited palette, builders and homeowners in the new suburbs are cladding homes in eye-catching tones. Drab vinyl siding is suddenly sinking in popularity after decades of steady growth, and its makers are racing to come up with vivid yet durable colors themselves. But the new habit taking hold is not without its lessons in the delicate balance between creative freedom and neighborhood harmony.

Last May, ARTech student Sean Hayford O’Leary launched an ISSUES list discussion on this touchy subject.

IMG_26261.JPGIt’s good to see variety is possible. However, we’re getting our house on Linden St. re-sided after the hailstorm (shameless self-promotion: it’s soon for sale) and we’re sticking with the original beige… but we are snazzing it up just a wee bit with wine-colored doors. I think if we were planning to stay in the house for another decade, we’d be thinking a little more boldly.

Potential Topics for Podcasts

tom waits.jpg

Well, let’s not all rush to suggest topics for our upcoming shows…

We could get a progress report on the TIP Strategies Economic Development Plan. Maybe we could focus in on the concepts of building on existing assets and possible force for recruitment and retention efforts.

I’d love to know if there are any new developments on the Liquor Store or new rumors on the Post Office. Have they started tearing up a Cornfield for the new Library?

Speaking of the Library, the Friends could plug their Adults Only Spelling Bee and share the plight of Booker. It might be a little warmer and fuzzier than some of our topics.

It might be fun to have Betsey and Galen telling us why we should care about Rice County. It’s probably a topic that deserves a higher profile.

Hey, maybe Morgan and Cameron could call in and tell us about life after college. Maybe they’d have something to add to their previous comments on the E. D. Plan.

The YMCA would probably appreciate a chance to plug their costly dream. It would be really interesting if we could do a call-in question session for that topic.

RENew Northfield is bringing some national bike safety expert to Northfield on, I think, October 5th. It would be a follow up to a previous topic and a promotion of an important community opportunity.

How about Tom Waits calling in support of Tracy’s word choice?

Just trying to get something going here…

Lack of fiber in Northfield’s economic diet

joel_cooper_krlx.jpgBack in April, we did a show on Northfield’s ultra high-speed broadband infrastructure with guest, Joel Cooper, Carleton’s Director of Information Technology Services. I think we should do another one, as municipal constipation may be setting in.

Earlier this week in the the Strib: College debuts Internet so fast, it almost gives you whiplash

Preparing for increased convergence of technology and media, Century College in White Bear Lake opened a new technology center featuring lightning-fast connections… He said the school developed the Kopp Center over the past five years with the idea that television will eventually be Internet-based and that as the Internet expands there will be more desktop video, more Internet TV, more bi-directional education, and so on.

There was also a Strib article in July that included info on fiber/ultra high speed: Should cities play role in providing Internet?

sBurnsville wants to make sure inadequate, high-cost Internet doesn’t slow growth, said Council Member Dan Gustafson. “We’re very focused on the medical technologies in Burnsville, and fiber is going to be very important for that industry.”

fiber.gifApple announced its TV/movie distribution service this week (BW article) following a similar Amazon announcement recently.

So what does all this mean? I think it means that the City of Northfield should examine more closely how ultra high-speed broadband infrastructure can help it achieve two of the three main strategies that are laid out in the recently approved 2006 economic development plan:

  • 1) Diversifying Northfield’s economic base
    The targeted industries include medical: “Healthcare/medical. Industry activities that range here and from direct patient care to diagnostic services to medical research.” If Burnsville sees the need for fiber for its medical technology industry, shouldn’t Northfield?

  • 3) Attracting and retaining talent
    Isn’t it likely that the college students we want to retain and others we want to attract would be enticed in part by the benefits offered by our fiber infrastructure? In the Dallas suburb of Keller, in Tampa, and in Huntington Beach, California, Verizon is rolling out FTTP (fiber-to-the-premises) for local customers “… as it can make applications like video chat and conferencing, digital movie downloads, and interactive multi-player games a part of their daily lives.” See Verizon’s FIOS website for more.

It’s time Northfield got serious about these developments. (Blandin is having a conference in October: Next Generation Broadband. City officials should attend.) Nothing has happened with city-wide wi-fi since the NDDC held a forum on it many months ago and I fear nothing is going to happen with fiber. (Yes, I’d like to see fiber brought to Northfield Crossing since I’m going to be living there next spring. Plus, I think it would help them sell more condos in this current real estate downturn.)

I plan to visit an upcoming EDA meeting and make my sentiments known. In the meantime, make your sentiments about this issue known by attaching comments here.

Sidebar items added

I’ve added a variety of sidebar items, most of them self-explanatory if you’re a techie. If you’re not, ask about them by using the comment feature for this blog post.

Next I’ll create accounts for Ross and Tracy and we’ll soon start discussing — right here in the blog so you can join us — what issues to consider for our upcoming podcast episodes.

Locally Grown podcast #20: Don Tarr and Kris Vohs on workforce housing

This content originally appeared on Northfield.org.

We took our Locally Grown show recording session to The Tavern‘s outdoor patio this afternoon (June 9). Our guests: Don Tarr, Chair of the Northfield Housing and Redeveloment Authority; and Kris Vohs, City Councilor and member of the HRA. Our topic: Northfield and the need for workforce housing.

You’ll need the latest version of Adobe Flash Player to access this content.

Click the play button to listen (30 minutes), or download the MP3 File, or subscribe to the feed, or subscribe with iTunes. Join the ISSUES discussion list to continue the conversation on these and other issues. Attach a comment to give us feedback. See the Locally Grown page for previous episodes and more on the show.

Locally Grown podcast #19: Peggy Prowe and the Mill Towns Trail

This content originally appeared on Northfield.org.

The May 26 recording session (L to R: Griff Wigley, Peggy Prowe, Ross Currier) The May 26 recording session (L to R: Griff Wigley, Peggy Prowe, Ross Currier, Tom Neuville, Ray Cox)

We took our recording session to the back room of the James Gang Hideaway on Friday, featuring Mill Towns Trail board member Peggy Prowe. The legislature just allocated $1 million dollars for the trail, so I invited Senator Tom Neuville and Representative Ray Cox to chime in.

You’ll need the latest version of Adobe Flash Player to access this content.

Click the play button to listen (30 minutes), or download the MP3 File, or subscribe to the feed, or subscribe with iTunes. Join the ISSUES discussion list to continue the conversation on these and other issues. Attach a comment to give us feedback. See the Locally Grown page for previous episodes and more on the show.

Locally Grown podcast #18: Streetscape and ArtsPlan ’06 with guest Howard Merriam

This content originally appeared on Northfield.org.

The May 19 recording session (L to R: Howard Merriam, Morgan Weiland, Ross Currier, Tracy Davis)

Howard Merriam, Director of Resource Planning for the City of Northfield, was the guest for Friday’s Locally Grown show (May 19), discussing plans for the downtown Streetscape & Way-Finding Plan (bike racks up first) and the ArtsPlan06 project. (L to R: Howard Merriam, Morgan Weiland, Ross Currier, Tracy Davis.)

You’ll need the latest version of Adobe Flash Player to access this content.

Click the play button to listen (30 minutes), or download the MP3 File, or subscribe to the feed, or subscribe with iTunes. Join the ISSUES discussion list to continue the conversation on these and other issues. Attach a comment to give us feedback. See the Locally Grown page for previous episodes and more on the show.

The people, scenes & events around Northfield, MN