At the April 30 community calendar meeting, participants identified the benefits and concerns of seven calendar concepts. At the end of the meeting, participants were asked to vote yes or no on each one (abstaining was also permitted), answering this question:
Does this calendar type have enough merit to move it forward for more consideration and "fleshing out" with specific detail and actual days?
Some news on the two Northfield-related citizen engagement projects that I’m working on:
Left: my photo of the NDDC’s Ross Currier, navigating icy sidewalks last week to distribute invitations to residents who live near downtown, inviting them to a residential stakeholders meeting this Thursday, 8 pm at the Northfield Public Library. Details here.
At the Jan. 14, 2013 Northfield Board of Education meeting, 26 parents, students and community members spoke with concern about the proposed change to the school district calendar structure for 2013-14. The board voted unanimously to stop consideration of a more balanced calendar for the 2013-14 school year. They directed the administration to recommend a 2013-14 calendar in an upcoming meeting based on the traditional academic year with an after-Labor Day start. In addition, the board requested that administration develop a plan to more deeply engage our community in a discussion about what kind of academic calendar will most benefit students in the future.
Instead, I worked with the District to manage the online engagement for the Transformational Technology proposal which was approved by the Board on Feb. 12.
I’ve now been hired by the District to manage the online portion of a community discussion about school calendars.
And to top it off, my daughter Gilly was in a serious car accident in Minneapolis earlier this week so I’ve been making daily treks to the Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) all week. As of this morning, she’s doing much better: no apparent complications from a concussion and a lacerated liver, and she doesn’t have to have surgery for her fractured pelvis. She’s moving over to the adjacent Knapp Rehabilitation Center later today. If you know her, contact/follow her on Facebook.
Update 2/15: Gilly is now recovering at our house, camped in a bed in our living room (right photo)
I told them to get their hair done for the meeting and that we’d also be practicing to use our index fingers for tablet use. As you can see from the photo, my coaching was more than marginally effective.
And like I blogged back in December about my contract with the City of Northfield, this contract will change the nature of my blogging here on LoGro about the School District, i.e., my relationships with the District’s leaders take priority over my public opinionating about them or the District. And I now have a conflict of interest when it comes to opinionating on District-related matters.
If I blog about anything related to the District or its leaders, the tone of my blog post will be along the lines of “Here’s something interesting. What do y’all think?” Essentially, my role will be more of a moderator. The opinionating (praise or criticism) will have to come from all of you.
Leaders at the school in St. Louis Park decided against trying to duplicate what area public libraries offer. Instead, they will emphasize teaching the school’s 1,200 students to find reliable information electronically.
It is among the first schools in the state to take out stacks and transform its library into a digital learning center.
Today’s libraries are reinventing themselves as vibrant town squares, showcasing the latest best sellers, lending Kindles loaded with e-books, and offering grass-roots technology training centers. Faced with the need to compete for shrinking municipal finances, libraries are determined to prove they can respond as quickly to the needs of the taxpayers as the police and fire department can.
… many libraries are culling their collections and adapting floor plans to accommodate technology training programs, as well as mini-conference rooms that offer private, quiet spaces frequently requested by self-employed consultants meeting with clients, as well as teenagers needing space to huddle over group projects.
This is relevant for Northfielders since A) the City of Northfield has begun a search for a new library/IT director; and B) the proposed expansion of the Northfield Public Library is likely to soon be considered by the Northfield City Council.
Failing to Close the ‘Digital Divide’ by Susan Crawford, visiting professor, Harvard Law School. The demand for libraries’ limited resources has outstripped the supply of both computers and bandwidth.
More Relevant Than Ever by Luis Herrera, city librarian, San Francisco. Libraries are a place for personal growth and reinvention, a gathering place for civic engagement.
It’s Not Just Story Time and Bookmobiles by Buffy Hamilton, school librarian, Canton, Ga. An old institution is incorporating new roles: as “makerspaces,” as centers of community publishing, and as digital learning labs.
For Gathering and for Solitude by Matthew Battles, author, “Library: An Unquiet History.” We still need spaces for making knowledge and sharing change, and some of those, surely, we will continue to call “the library.”
There is a Minnesota state statute (Chapter 331A) requiring local units of government (cities, counties, townships, school boards) to publish public notices in newspapers, everything from minutes and agendas to tax levies, financial reports, project bids, forfeited properties, etc.
I started thinking about this issue again when I saw this article in GovDelivery about the very same issue in the UK: Public notices: the case for radical reform. So I requested information from the City of Northfield and the Northfield School District to see how much this was costing us taxpayers.
1. City of Northfield
The City of Northfield has a contract with Huckle Media LLC, the publishers of the Northfield News, to spend a minimum of $15,000 this year to publish public notices and other city-related ads. (See page 2 of the Jan. 3, 2012 minutes.) The 2012 rate for legal ads is $13.35 per column inch.
Thus far in 2012, over $21,000 has been spent. Last year it was over $18,000.
The above articles contain many of the arguments, pro and con.
One big issue is about government transparency, that requiring notices to be printed in a newspaper helps ensure this. I disagree. Only a very small % of citizens are without internet access these days. (Over 85% of Northfielders had high speed internet access as of 2 years ago.) If local governments are required to post all public notices in public buildings (eg, post offices, libraries, etc) then that’s sufficient. And the tens of thousands of tax dollars saved can then be put to better use.
If, in the normal course of its business, a qualified newspaper maintains a Web site, then as a condition of accepting and publishing public notices, the newspaper must agree to post all the notices on its Web site at no additional cost. The notice must remain on the Web site during the notice’s full publication period. Failure to post or maintain a public notice on the newspaper’s Web site does not affect the validity of the public notice.
I’d like to see our new DFL legislators, Kevin Dahle and David Bly, team up with some of their Republican colleagues and get this antiquated law changed. In 2011, then DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen and DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk were against changing the law.
In the photo on the left (L to R) are high schoolers Arlo Cristofaro-Hark, Helen Forsythe, Antonia Cristofaro-Hark, and Cliff Martin. Not pictured: Avery Swearer. Behind them are two of the many adults who were involved in the project: George Kinney and Mary Jo Cristofaro.
Northfield Transition Youth/YES developed the project to build recycling bins for downtown because, as Griff has complained, the plastic wheelie bins chained to the trash receptacles weren’t very attractive (and then they disappeared) and to encourage recycling. I believe they had a design competition, but their first design made of wood did not pass muster with the HPC. George Kinney was helping develop the project in its design/initial attempt, but I believe this was as a private citizen and not an EQC project.
The Downtown Streetscape Task Force was moving ahead to buy receptacles much like what has been created, but they cost $1500 apiece. Streetscape was willing, but that’s when Howie stepped in to say — Hey, we can do this cheaper here. I can teach kids to weld, we can cut apart old trash containers and “stretch” them with similar-looking slats. A bit more back and forth on this — keeping recycling dry is a big deal because wet paper, according to Joe Stapf, spoils the lot, so ensuring there were lids on the containers was critical. TJ Heinricy helped by providing old trash receptacles for creating a prototype. Streetscape Task Force worked out the details and is paying for the containers.
And, now they’re beginning to appear on the street. I understand from Howie that he’s got some great youth welding talent, too. The Transition youth, Mary Jo Cristafaro (another adult assistant), and Howie deserve a round of applause for their idea, persistence, and execution. Looks great; saves money.
Betsey, in addition to the much-deserving Joe Stapf and T. J. Heinricy, I think thanks, by name, are due to Bob Will, Chair of the Streetscape Task Force, Steve Edwins, Member of the Heritage Preservation Commission, and Betsey Buckheit, Second Ward Councilor, for walking down to Eco Gardens and checking out Howie’s prototype. They all went the extra mile (okay, maybe it was only half a mile) to give the local option a chance.
Although having a decision-making rubric is a great idea (it can promote fairness and efficiency), it would appear that sometimes it’s a good idea to add a little “common sense” or, for a lack of a better term, subjective valuation to the decision-making process. The decision had been made according to the proper policy/procedure and the process/organization was moving toward timely implementation when Howie basically asked, “Could you give it another minute or so?” and Joe, T. J., Bob, Steve, and Betsey said, “We can give it another minute or so”.
Understandably, it would be a challenge to municipal efficiency (in terms of time and, sometimes, money), if we essentially second-guessed every decision made by a public sector group or entity. However, in this particular example of a sometimes stumbling (or seemingly inefficient), and admittedly stop and go process, reviewing the decision, particularly double-checking both the explicit and implicit values likely to be used by the community to judge the results, before taking irreversible steps to implement the plan, resulted in a better outcome.
Well deserved credit goes to the stalwarts of Transition Youth/YES, Mary Jo, and Mera Colling, who worked on quite a few designs over the past year and a half or more — lots of prototypes, many false starts, and I think we are so happy that the final design received everyone’s approval. TJ and Howie really came through for the group — helping to find solutions and getting the process moving. It wouldn’t have happened without their help. The group received additional support and encouragement from Northfield in Bloom and Curt Saffle of Waste Management.
As far as the EQC is concerned, we’ve been pushing for permanent downtown recycling options for probably close to 10 years, with Suzie Nakasian being the champion for several years on EQC (and then Planning Commission).
Thanks to the leadership of a group of Northfield High School and Arcadia Charter School students, along with the help of the community, city workers are now in the process of installing what will eventually be 28 new recycling/garbage bin combos in the downtown area and parks where no recycling bins were previously available.
I spoke with Rhonda after one of the election forums at the Cow and told her that while I was initially concerned about her connection to Transformation Northfield (TN) and Rejoice!, I was no longer worried. Yes, she abstained on the marriage amendment vote and was the only council member to vote against the domestic partner registry ordinance this summer and I disagree with her on those issues. But those votes in my mind have been outweighed by her overall performance as a councilor and to my knowledge, she’s never spoken or acted in a way that would convey she believes God or Pastor Dan Clites are telling her what’s best for Northfield.
Am I voting for Rhonda or Dana Graham for mayor? I’m still undecided.
2. Jeff Quinnell
I haven’t followed the School Board very closely in the past four years and I have no specifics, pro or con, to say about Jeff’s performance.
It does bother me, however, that on one of his campaign websites he links to his personal Facebook profile where, if you become his ‘friend,’ you’ll see that he regularly posts Bible verses to his Wall, as well as, at times, questionable quotes for a school board member, for example:
"Education is useless without the Bible." — Noah Webster
So Jeff is still a concern to me. I’ll be voting for Galen Malecha.
3. Dan Cupersmith
Dan and his wife Karianne just returned from the 23rd annual Harvest Evangelism conference in Hawaii with Dan Clites, Brett Reese (co-leaders of Transformation Northfield) and a dozen or more other Northfielders. You can hear their testimonies in the Oct. 14, 2012 "Aloha to Transformation!" podcast, listed on the Rejoice! Weekly Sermon/Podcast page. A partial quote from Dan Cupersmith:
This is starting with the youth. One of the examples/testimonies that we saw was Valley Christian School in California, a school that was really on the down and out [garbled] and possibly being closed and now has turned around to be one of the top schools in the nation and it was all led through prayer evangelism.
That may not seem like much but it’s worrisome to me, especially when you hear Brett Reese predicting that "Northfield will become a city of God" and Dan Clites proclaiming, "If you really want to change the world, you have to change the marketplace. You gotta change the atmosphere of the government, you gotta change the atmosphere of the education system…"
I will not be voting for Dan Cupersmith for Northfield School Board. I will be voting for Rob Hardy, Ellen Iverson, and Anne Maple.
… recruits tutors from the community and the colleges to work with children in Northfield’s public elementary schools. Founded by Rachel Matney and Fritz Bogott, the program’s aim is to use one-on-one tutoring to close Northfield’s large achievement gap.
Joe stopped by my corner office at GBM for the obligatory promo photo and then a few days later, I saw him meeting with Accelerate Northfield co-founder Fritz Bogott. Fritz and Joe said that their big goal since they launched the project a year ago was to raise awareness among more elementary teaches so that they’d list their students’ tutoring needs on the Accelerate Northfield website. This fall, they’ve accomplished that beyond their expectations and now they’re in need of more tutors. See the three ways that can you help.
We believe in the safety and equality of all youth; that everyone in the classroom is entitled to a safe environment. We also believe in the importance of the youth voice. We are youth promoting the acceptance of all genders, sexual orientations and gender expressions. This march is driven by our communal beliefs, and it aims to apply our zeal by exposing people to the challenges that face the LGBTQ community. We envision creating a welcoming environment for all voices to be heard.
But then on Saturday, I saw these posters at the Byron, MN Middle School, praising Melissa and Avery for their "outstanding participation" as musicians of the week. (Notice how I’ve redacted their last names from the photos of the posters. I’d hate to have their self-esteem damaged by this blog post.)
Do any Northfield area educators still do this type of stuff?
I’m quoted in the article (sounding like the blue-blooded Minnesotan that I am) as I’m one of many people around the state trying to form a local team.
Griff Wigley, 62, who is trying to start a team in Northfield, said, “Yeah, it’s a little pricey because you have to have some equipment, but compared to hockey or football, which pretty much ends for 99 percent of all kids as soon as high school is over, this is a heck of a deal. Pretty much everyone in their adult life has a bicycle.”
When I met with mama- and sex blogger Anne Sabo back in January, I asked her if she knew much about the sex education programs at Northfield area schools, and more specifically, whether educators were allowed to talk to kids about masturbation. She didn’t know but promised to find out.
New national minimum standards for sex education curriculum are not going to remedy the situation. These non-binding recommendations were recently released to states and school districts in an effort to encourage age-appropriate discussions about sex, bullying and healthy relationships. Though this may seem a positive measure, the recommendations reflect the disappointingly low level of quality sex education we have arrived at today after decades of funding and promoting abstinence-only programs, though abstinence-only programs have proven highly ineffective. The standards really do capture a bare minimum.
Anne didn’t include Northfield-specific sex ed info in her blog post since that blog has a wider audience. But she’s agreed to attach a comment here on what she’s found out.
For those of you wondering about Joycelyn Elders, she was appointed Surgeon General in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. The Wikipedia entry says:
In 1994, she was invited to speak at a United Nations conference on AIDS. She was asked whether it would be appropriate to promote masturbation as a means of preventing young people from engaging in riskier forms of sexual activity, and she replied, "I think that it is part of human sexuality, and perhaps it should be taught."
Anne’s blog post includes this YouTube video, a hilarious scene in an episode from the TV series Weeds in which "uncle Andy gives a lesson in how to masturbate well to one of his nephews." For those of you reluctant to watch/listen/click, I’ve included the transcript below the video, courtesy of IMDB:
Alright, listen closely. I’m not going to beat around the bush. Ha ha ha. Your little body’s changing – it’s all good, believe me. Problem now is… every time we jerk the gerkin, we get a lot of unwanted sticky white stuff everywhere, right? Right. So… First order of business – no more socks. They’re expensive, gumming up the works plumming-wise. Now you might be thinking to yourself, "But, Uncle Andy, what do I do with all that pearl jam if I can’t spew it into Mr. Sock?" Glad you asked… You can have a lovely time tugging the tiger in the shower each morning – that eliminates the need for a goo glove. But, the day is long, masturbation’s fun, so unless we want to take 4 or 5 showers every day, we’re gonna need some other options.
So let’s start with the basics. Tissues. Perfectly acceptable backstop for all that Creamy Italian. They can be rough and dry on such soft, sensitive skin and it can stick to your dick head like a fuckin’ band-aid – ouch. From there we move on to more lubricated flack-catchers – specificially, bananas. Step one: Peel the banana. Step two: Slip the peel over your Randy Johnson and start pitching. Now for extra credit, warm up the peel in the microwave. Not too hot! Serious yowza. Also, olive oil, moisturizer, honey, spit, butter, hair conditioner, and Vaseline can all be used for lube. In my opinion, the best lube… is lube. So save your allowance and invest in some soon. Alright, moving on – when you tug your Thomas on the toilet – ffft – shoot right into the bowl. In bed – soft t-shirt, perhaps a downy hand towel of your very own that you don’t mind tossing after tossing. There’s no such thing as polishing the raised scepter of love too much. It reduces stress, it enhances immune function. Also, practice makes perfect. So work on your control now, while you’re a solo artist – you’ll be playing some long, happy duets in the future. Ok – class dismissed.
Gary said that the League’s first initiative is to form a high school mountain bike racing league in here in MN. Other cycling sports might be supported at a later date but that the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) believes that mountain biking is the ‘T-Ball’ of cycling. The League’s events will be open to individual student riders but organizers also believe that forming high school teams is the best way for students to learn the skills and how to ride safely.
Organizers helped the attendees meet each other in geographic groups to facilitate planning. I got together with some guys from Cannon Falls and Red Wing at the meeting and we’re exploring the possibility of forming a Cannon River Valley regional team, to include those towns plus Faribault and Northfield.
This event is for parents who want to become head coaches, assistant coaches, or ride leaders for the new league. It’s a two-day school on how to work with high school-aged youth, how to teach young riders the skills necessary to become racers, information on Wilderness Training and CPR (both required to be a Head Coach), and is part of a required curriculum to become a licensed MN league coach. We’ll also do a little skills work outside, so come with bikes, helmets, ready to ride.
Interested? Got questions? Attach a comment here or contact me.
High School teacher Kevin Dahle was the Master of Ceremonies and spiced things up throughout with his comedian routine, eg, "I’d like to thank the decorations committee for the wonderful country club theme" and "When the reception is over, please follow last in-first out protocol for your departure" and "The cake is sponsored by the MN legislature but you can only eat 60% of it now with the rest available…" Clever guy, that Kevin. Even Dave Neuger got into it: "Chris is a wonderful person, hard working, extremely talented, respected by… um… ah…. let’s see… help me out here, Chris, I’m having trouble reading your handwriting." None of those are exact quotes but close enough.
Unfortunately, I only had my crappy smartphone camera to use for photos and as you’ll see, it doesn’t do well indoors.
A bill making its way through the Legislature would allow school administrators to consider a teacher’s performance in the classroom, instead of just seniority, when cutting jobs. The measure would eliminate the so-called "last in, first out" approach to layoffs. Although some teachers think it’s time to shake the system up, many are opposed to any change in the long-standing system of tenure, a form of job security for classroom veterans.
As federal dollars expire, teachers could face a higher number of layoffs than in previous years. Should teacher performance trump seniority when choosing who gets laid off? Keri’s guests are Professor Diane Ravitch from New York University, Tom Weber of MPR News, Tim Melton of Students First and Tom Dooher of Education Minnesota.
Neither Carleton College nor St. Olaf College have CSID as part of their crisis management plans but it’s evidently not by design, according to those I contacted. I think it’s safe to assume that if there were a traumatic event of some kind at the colleges, post traumatic event counseling would be made available.
I’ll invite some Northfield area psychologists, therapists and counselors to chime in here with their comments and questions in hopes that we all can get smarter about this issue and be better prepared should something bad happen.
Here’s an extended excerpt from Wilson’s book about CISD:
A group of ARTech students appeared outside the window of my corner office at GBM this morning. They were walking around downtown singing Christmas carols. When I went outside to take a photo, they were singing Winter Wonderland, one of my favorites. It was already in my head, as Trailer Trash performed their version of the song last night at A Trashy Little Xmas: Walkin’ in My Winter Underwear.
Given the crappy winter weather we’ve had this week (and projected to continue through xmas), it might be good for the students to add the song Summertime Summertime to their repertoire.
Helen Albers: A big Tree Hug to all of our town tree-lovers! With thanks to all who have responded to express their appreciation of trees! Happy Holidays! Helen Albers
Beth Kallestad: Thank you Helen for your tree planting and reminding us of the need to protect those trees!
John S. Thomas: It truly is a beautiful tree. I am still “sick” of the way the trees on Fourth Street look. It will be MANY years before they mature… and I hope they do!
Marsha Kitchel: What a lovely photo of Helen Albers, beautiful in red, hugging her red maple. Hold on for dear life if “new and improved” means touching this gorgeous tree or any of the trees on Bridge Square. Northfielders would be...
Griff Wigley: Northfield City Engineer Joe Stapf sent me these photos today of the repairs to Armstrong Road and the adjacent Mill Towns Trail. Joe wrote: The trail paving is complete (still being rolled so not yet open), and the roadway is...
Doug Peterson: Hi Griff, After reading Jan Hill’s reply, I realize my mis-understanding on “riding the rails”. You got me. Can I blame that on getting old?
Jan Hill: I knew this was a send-up, Griff, having investigated possible routes ourselves (and knowing you!) But I thought for sure the cyclist on the rail was a fake–until I watched the video. Now that’s scary.
Griff Wigley: Nick, I’ve heard from another Northfielder on this who wrote via email: The part where you suggest that riders go on to the active rail line does not make good common sense to me. I have worked on the railroad as a head...
Nick Benson: Your non-pussy readers should note that trespassing on railroad tracks, as shown there, is both dangerous and illegal; trains can be surprisingly quiet when approaching on smooth welded rail like that, which doesn’t...
Ross Currier: I just walked through Bridge Square and ALL THREE of the tables were occupied. It didn’t look like they were playing chess, though, more like eating lunch… …and what a day for it, in beautiful downtown Northfield,...
Griff Wigley: The three picnic tables were installed last week. Each has an inlaid backgammon and chess/checkerboard. I’ve added photos to the blog post above.
Griff Wigley: Joe, thanks for that explanation. And if your eighth grade English teacher, Mrs. Gentilini, is still around, I think she might approve of your communications style.
kiffi summa: Joe or Mr. Stapf… Thanks for the explanation; I think its/they’re great, and long overdue… I just didn’t want anything to put off the Bridge Square redesign implementation … and often it’s...
Joe Stapf: Ah-h-h-h, yes, The Gaming Tables… Question #1) Who authorized them!!!??? I did. The picnic tables (if you recall, a trial) were deemed by me to have been a success. We received absolutely 100%, pure, unadulterated positive feedback...
Griff Wigley: Two new parking-related blog posts: A bicycle field trip with Dale Gehring to get smarter about ‘making the connections’ http://northfielddowntownparki ng.org/2013/08/30/a-bicycle-fi eld-trip-with-dale-gehring-...
Griff Wigley: New blog post: Proposed layout of directional and way-finding signs for public parking
Griff Wigley: New blog post: Washington St. lot restriped to optimize parking spaces
Griff Wigley: Blog post update: recommended downtown parking management action steps for Aug. 13 Council work session
Griff Wigley: Blog post update: July 31 parking management planning meeting at City Hall
Griff Wigley: There is a Prayer Walk for the Northfield School District today, 4-8 pm: By Maria KayLynn Olson and Kiersten-Kiwi Williams Bielenberg Schedule: 4:00-4:25 Prairie Creek 4:30-4:55 Arcadia 5:00-5:25 Greenvale 5:30-5:55 Sibley 6:00-6:25...
Griff Wigley: Hi Marie, thanks for asking. I’ll contact you via email.
Marie Wright: I’d like to use this photo on my website. My theme is vintage Main Street USA. I feel that I need your permission to copy this photo and use it. (Julia Rose Grey is my pen name for my genre of novels.)
Griff Wigley: Dave, I like the two-prong attack, too. Can you let us know when the short-term task force is due to meet? I’d like to attend, and I’m sure some of the neighbors would as well. And make sure that pizza with mushroom...
Griff Wigley: Nfld News article on Tuesday’s Council action on this issue: Subcommittee to explore fixes for tax-forfeited land acquired by Northfield During heavy rain, water has overtaken the yards and basements of Karen Moldenhauer and...
David DeLong: Griff, I’m told there’s over 50,000 cubic yards of dirt in the pile which translates to over 2,500 dump truck loads. I think there’s enough to go around. The problem is moving all that over residential streets, if we sell it or...
Griff Wigley: At last night’s meeting, the City Council opted to A) form a 4-week task force of 3 council members plus engineering staff and citizens to deal with the runoff problem in the neighborhood; and B) ask the Parks & Rec...
kiffi summa: good to know, Griff… I trust that you’re correct about the amount of dirt needed for the create of a bike park. Maybe if there’s so much more than needed, a berm could be created between the park and the houses, if...
Nancy Averill: Ah KDWB. THE best radio station ever. We had the KDW-Beatles. We had the KDW-Beach Boys. We were color radio. We had leaky billboards. I maintain that Professor James Francis Patrick O’Neill is the very basis of my humor. We...
Griff Wigley: Paul/George, they reopened the old culvert and put in a new larger secondary one. I’ll try to get photos.
Griff Wigley: Thanks everyone for your kind comments about the photos. I’ve added a few of downtown to the blog post above. See Rob Hardy’s comprehensive listing of links related to the flooding on Northfield.org.