Category Archives: ~Uncategorized

How to be a frugalista and still have fun

Tom Friedman wrote in his NY Times column yesterday:

I go into restaurants these days, look around at the tables often still crowded with young people, and I have this urge to go from table to table and say: “You don’t know me, but I have to tell you that you shouldn’t be here. You should be saving your money. You should be home eating tuna fish. This financial crisis is so far from over. We are just at the end of the beginning. Please, wrap up that steak in a doggy bag and go home.”

Don’t like Friedman? How about Ben Stein’s recent economic view? Or William Kristol’s? Or my recent favorite (thanks for the tip, Tyson) on our economic meltdown, Peter Schiff (AKA Dr. Doom, Wikipedia entry here) who predicted it with uncanny accuracy in this 2006 speech to the Mortgage Bankers Association. It’s a great education to watch the speech. Here’s the first of 8 videos (each about 10 minutes):

Schiff’s recent columns include his Nov. 21st column titled The Truth About Bailouts in which he says (bold italics mine):

So for the same reasons that Washington should not bail out General Motors, the world should not bailout America. Like GM, our economy is in desperate need of a restructuring. Spending must be replaced with savings, and consumption with production. The service sector must shrink and manufacturing must expand to fill the void. The dollar must fall, wages in America must be brought down to a competitive level, and hopefully government spending and burdensome regulation can be reduced.

This transformation will not be fun, but it is necessary. Our standard of living must decline to reflect years of reckless consumption and the disintegration of our industrial base. Only by swallowing this tough medicine now will our sick economy ever recover. By accepting a lower standard of living today, we will eventually be rewarded with a higher one tomorrow.

New Oxford Dictionary’s 2008 Word of the Year finalists include ‘frugalista’ — “a person who lives a frugal lifestyle but stays fashionable and healthy by swapping clothes, buying secondhand, growing own produce, etc.” Anybody can easily start this lifestyle to become more professional and kind of organized in their lifestyle. They can easily complement their workwear or professional outlook with a mens leather briefcase available from Blaxton Bags.


Robbie and I decided this weekend that it’s time for us to ratchet back our consumption and work harder at being frugalistas, even though we’re not in any immediate financial danger.

Her first suggestion was to find free or inexpensive entertainment, both locally and in the Twin Cities. So on Saturday, we spent the afternoon exploring the new Minneapolis Central Library. (Among the treasures: the PostSecret exhibition. Amazing.)

Her second suggestion: do more adventurous cooking at home. The recipes category of the Just Food Co-op blog was a good place to start.

Do you have suggestions for how to be a frugalista in Northfield?  Attach a comment.

(No economic policy comments here, please. Hop over to the Our nation’s financial crisis blog post for that.)

Chicks, broads, and sluts in context: Yo, people, lighten up

 jaciblog jaci-smith

Jaci Smith, managing editor of the Northfield News, has been getting hammered by citizens who were offended by her Broadening the Field front-page headline in the Nov. 5 edition of the paper, announcing the results of the city council elections.

See the letters to the editor in this week’s paper. Her column in last Saturday’s paper was titled, Defining a ‘broad,’ and a race in which she wrote:

In my e-mail to the councilors- and mayor-elect, I wrote that I think of a “broad” as a woman who is smart, savvy, tough and confident; a woman who can balance work, family and business and still find a way to be involved in the community. A leader. I can’t think of anything we need more for our city. So, in my eagerness to impart that message in three words or less on Tuesday night, “Broadening the field” seemed appropriate.

I am profoundly relieved that our new female leadership took the headline in the spirit that it was intended. But by choosing the headline I did, I managed to sidetrack the momentum and the conversation from all the exciting possibilities before us onto something much less interesting and noteworthy. And that’s what I regret most of all.

We joked about ‘broads’ vs. ‘chicks’ on this week’s Locally Grown podcast… a show where Ross and I regularly turn to Tracy and say, “Tracy, you ignorant slut!” ala Dan Akroyd-to-Jane Curtin in SNL’s Counterpoint.

I thought Jaci’s headline was clever.  If the term once was offensive, it no longer is, just like the phrase “that sucks” used be offensive but no longer is. Even old timers from Frank Sinatra’s day might remember that he used ‘broad’ as an affectionate term for a girl or woman with sex appeal.

Jaci should not have (weakly) apologized, but rather should have defended herself by citing none other than Eve Webster, president of the League of Women Voters Northfield-Cannon Falls, who was quoted by Suzi Rook in the Northfield News in October:

Having women and men at the table when determining the city’s course is important, said Thurston, who served two terms on the council. “I think it’s good to have a woman’s voice and a man’s,” she said. Webster, with the LWV, agrees. Decisions about public policy are more wisely made when a variety of perspectives are available,” she said. “It’s a matter of broadening the field.”

LWV/Northfield News candidate forum videos now available

The League of Women Voters Northfield-Cannon Falls (LWVNCF) teamed up with the Northfield News this year to host three candidate forums. The first was a Northfield City Council primary forum in August.)

This week on Thursday night, the forum featured the Northfield City Council candidates. Here’s the video that’s posted to the LWV blog.

Click play to watch. Segments: intro (0:00 to 04:00), Ward 3 (04:00 to 21:48), 4-year At-large (21:48 to 38:30), Ward 2  (38:30 to 54:35), 2-year At-large (54:35 to 72:22) and Mayor (72:22 to end).

On Oct. 18, other local candidates were featured in a forum. Here’s the video that’s posted to the LWV blog.

Click play to watch. Dundas City Council (05:25), Dundas Mayor (12:56), MN State House Distrct 25B (24:22), Rice County District 5 (41:39), Rice County District 1 (58:46), Dakota County District 1 (74:47), and MN State House District 36B (79:36).

Much Ado About Autos

Freeway CF
Freeway CF
An recent op-ed the Sacramento Bee had an interesting angle on some of the traffic and transportation issues facing many parts of the U.S., including Northfield.

We’re stuck with the landscape we’ve built over the past 60 years, much of which is literally uninhabitable without a car. Trying to make our communities less car-dependent simply by adding more buses, streetcars and light rail is like trying to make a bowl of chicken soup vegan simply by picking the chicken out.

The author goes on to explain how our built environment has stacked the deck in favor of the individual automobile, at the expense of community, human health, and the environment. He points out, “Cities and suburbs throughout Western Europe have proven for decades that people will choose walking, bicycling and public transit over personal cars if the price is right and the trip is pleasant.”

But unlike more militant voices, he doesn’t take a hard line against cars per se, instead focusing what we can regain by re-thinking the design of our cities and towns.

… how we use cars, how we plan our economies and communities around cars, and even how we build cars, all have to change. . . Millions upon millions of Europeans are living rich, modern lives without requiring a private car to meet their most basic needs. They’re in communities that function perfectly well with gasoline three times the price as at our pumps, and with the resilience to continue thriving if prices doubled tomorrow. How many places in America can say the same?

He concludes with the point that the way things were built prior to the mid-20th century may also make good sense in how we handle the increasing cost of oil and the fact that it’s a finite resource which is running out.

One of the things I’ve always appreciated about Northfield is the fact that most of it was built to what has come to be called “human scale”, without the speed and enclosure of automobiles to skew our sense of distance. This community is geographically compact, which gives us several advantages IF we make wise decisions about transportation and land use going forward.

What do you think of this whole idea? How is Northfield better or less prepared than other parts of the country to embrace changes like this?

Read the full article here, and come back to comment.

Why the widely differing straw poll results on the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment?

I blogged a straw poll here on Locally Grown on Oct 20 that asked:

On Nov. 4, will you vote for the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment?


Yes (56%, 76 Votes)
No (44%, 59 Votes)
Total Voters: 135

The Northfield News ran a similar straw poll on Oct 25 that asked:

Will you vote to approve an increase in the sales tax to support the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment?


No 61.4%
Yes 33.1%
I don’t know 5.5%
Totals voters: 145

I was surprised at the difference until I noticed that the paper’s question included the phrase “vote to approve an increase in the sales tax to…”

Could it be that LoGroNo site visitors didn’t realize that voting ‘yes’ means voting for an increase in the sales tax?  If not that, then what’s the reason for the discrepancy?

Northfield News’ 2008 Voters Guide now online; Council candidate forum tonight


Last weekend’s Nfld News contained their 2008 Northfield Area Voter Guide supplement. It’s now available as a PDF on their website.

And tonight, the paper is teaming up with the League of Women Voters of Northfield & Cannon Falls to host a City Council candidates’ forum at City Hall.

See the press release on the Nfld News site here or on the LWV blog here.

  • 7:05 p.m. Ward 3 candidates — Don McGee and Erica Zweifel
  • 7:25 p.m. Council member at-large (two-year term) candidates — Dana Graham and Kris Vohs
  • 7:45 p.m. Ward 2 candidates — Betsey Buckheit and Jerold Friedman
  • 8:05 p.m. Council member at-large (four-year term) candidates — Joe Gasior, Rhonda Pownell, Victor Summa and C. Lynn Vincent
  • 8:35 p.m. Mayoral candidates — Paul Hager and Mary Rossing

RepJ reporter teams with Carleton student on story

Hi, my name’s Ben Haynor. I’m a math and physics major at Carleton College. I ended up in a journalism class this semester and began looking at Northfield’s opiate problem. I met Bonnie on Friday and we decided to collaborate on a story. We had already been gathering information, conducting interviews and looking at the history of Northfield’s opiate problem this month. When seven were arraigned on drug charges on Monday, we felt prepared to cover the news and we were glad to have a team of two to do so.

In the coming week we’ll be talking with the authorities to learn more about the arrests, get a better sense of what problems our community still faces, and learn how police intend to continue combating problems with heroin. We’ll be speaking with police in other towns that have had similar bouts with heroin dealing to gain perspective on how a community can fight the problem. If you know more about Northfield’s opiate scene, and are willing to speak, please contact Bonnie or me at or

Election 2008 discussion: Northfield City Council Ward 3 – candidates and issues

Don McGee Erica Zwiefel 
Don McGee and Erica Zweifel are running for Northfield City Council, Ward 3. We’ve invited them to interact online with us (the LoGroNo Triumvirate) here in the message thread attached to this blog post for the next few days.

And then we’ll invite you, the citizens of Northfield, to also chime in over the next ten days or so. Here are some links to find out more about the candidates:

Candidate web sites: (includes their answers to a dozen questions from citizens)

Northfield News:

  • Don McGee
  • Erica Zweifel