COMMUNITY VOICES | Where To Go From Here? Marshall Ave. Safety Project

 On any given day, a journey down the Marshall Avenue corridor between Snelling Avenue and John Ireland Avenue can be quite interesting for pedestrians. Without any marked bicycle lanes, cyclists must keep safety at a premium. For cyclists, those on foot, and motorists, once Victoria Avenue is reached, the roadway becomes half as wide. And, in a puzzle of traffic infrastructure, Marshall ceases to continue eastbound at the Western Avenue intersection… while the westbound portion of Marshall coming from John Ireland Avenue meets the other side of Western Avenue, in the form of a one-way street. In response to possible pedestrian safety outcomes of such a complex corridor, local residents have lit the metaphorical traffic lamp to raise awareness. “I ride along Marshall Ave and find the whole thing unnerving,” St. Continue Reading

Streetcars in St. Paul: A route to the past or the future?

Not sure about the difference between streetcars and light rail? Or why anyone would think a streetcar is better than a bus?The city of St. Paul has been conducting a feasibility study on the opportunity to bring streetcars back to the city, in moderate fashion, for the first time in decades. One of the intentions of the study has been to seek input from the public, to gauge interest and solicit informed opinions. The city has opened and maintained a forum page, Open St. Continue Reading

2013 Racial Equity Agenda presented at Minnesota Capitol

Around 300 people attended the 2013 Racial Equity Agenda at the Minnesota State Capitol on January 30. The Racial Equity Agenda has been an ongoing project of the OAP, said organizer Vina Kay.“OAP has released a Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity for seven years,” said Kay. “Last year we added the simultaneous release of the Racial Equity Agenda. Together, these pieces provide an accountability tool and a forward-looking approach to working for racial justice in Minnesota. It is important to amplify the multiple, different voices for racial justice and to connect them with our shared vision.”“Minnesota has the ability to manifest total racial equity,” local speaker, college student, and artist Chilli Lor proclaimed to the spectators and Agenda participants ringing the first and second floors of the Capitol Rotunda. Continue Reading

Jobs Foundation translates for-profit business experience into non-profit job training project

“Fellowship builds us up and binds us together.”The message, displayed prominently on a blackboard at the Jobs Foundation and Tech Dump, resonates with the participants and founders of the non-profit organization. That’s the way the program was set up to function, according to Tom McCullough, one of the founders of the Jobs Foundation. McCullough and business partner George Lee used their business experience to found a non-profit that assists workers with troubled backgrounds by helping them learn and hone key job skills, such as communication and teamwork.“All along, we felt we could leverage more value by teaching some of the skill sets we were applying at our for profit business, Probus OneTouch,” McCullough explained during a tour of the Plymouth facility. “Jobs Foundation started April 2010, and much of the financial growth and success has occurred with its Tech Dump computer and electronics recycling division,” which McCullough also manages.Currently, the Jobs Foundation employs nine “planned individuals,” meaning participants directly involved in the skills and job rehabilitation experience, and four “non-planned” individuals, those not necessarily from troubled backgrounds, or seeking later employment at a traditional station. Once enrolled into the program, participants  undergo “measurements of success… including staying clean, mastering new job skills, buying their own transportation, going back to school… each of these milestones are being achieved within the employee population at Jobs,” explained McCullough. Continue Reading

New tool for green building coming from University of Minnesota Center for Sustainable Building Research

CORRECTIONS 12/19/2012 – Two researchers at University of Minnesota Center for Sustainable Building Research are setting up a new website that will help developers and consumers identify green building strategies. They are working to make the website, the Minnesota Sustainable Housing Initiative, MNSHI for short, as user-friendly as possible.William Weber, senior research fellow and Minnesota Sustainable Housing Initiative project manager; and Dan Handeen, a research fellow at the campus Center for Sustainable Building Research described the project at a noontime CURA forum on the status and future of “healthy, durable, and energy-efficient homes” on Friday, December 7. In addition to students, faculty, local developers, and regular citizens were in attendance. The forum was hosted by CURA and moderated by William Craig, acting director of CURA. “Our goal (through the sustainable building program) is to ensure that future generations have access to clean air, water, and resources that we do and utilize today,” said Handeen.Weber and Handeen’s group targets the early stages of building development, in the hopes of helping developers to plan and construct a smarter building, one that satisfies the resident, yet is also energy-sound and better adapted to the immediate and future variations of climate.”This is about identifying opportunities to maximize energy potential while optimizing” early construction tools, such as site selection, Weber said, in response to an audience question about the sustainable building objective.The MNSHI website, which has been on line since 2007, is currently developing new tools that will be accessible in late January.  After the first publication of this article, Weber emailed to clarify and provide additional information about the Upstream tools and curriculum: The Upstream tools and curriculum are intended to help non-profit developers make better decisions early in the development process in order to reduce long term impacts. Continue Reading

THREE ISSUES | Stu-ing over 2012 election issues

As a resident of a St. Paul suburb, Stuart Orlowski began an educational journey three years ago that has him currently at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where the Twin Cities Daily Planet was able to track him down. With strong ties to two states, a no-holds barred outlook on the machinations of politics and society, and an approaching degree in Geological Engineering, Mr. Orlowski goes one-on-one with the TC Daily Planet. Buckle up.Forrester Pack: What is an issue or concept that you would like to see addressed in the 2012 elections?Stuart Orlowski: Poor people, not this middle-class bull$#^t.FP:  Is it safe to say you have conviction on this election subject?SO: Not enough about our society’s poor and lower-working class is being discussed. All I ever hear about is the ‘middle’. Continue Reading

THREE ISSUES | Questions and quibbles for the 2012 elections

Kyle Posten, a St. Paul resident and undergrad at Century College in White Bear Lake, gives the Twin Cities Daily Planet key points he thinks should be addressed in the 2012 elections by President Barack Obama and his opponent, Mitt Romney. The interview took place over the social networking website, Facebook.Forrester Pack: As a student of higher education, you mentioned during our introduction that educational issues were of particular concern to you during this election season.Kyle Posten: Well, one topic that concerns me is educational funding. More funding for K-12, specifically. When I volunteered at a school as a teacher’s assistant, it made me realize how hard teachers work and how much help they need in the classroom. Continue Reading

THREE ISSUES | Iraq invasion, work and labor laws

Dan Pinotti, St. Paul resident and former teaching assistant at the University of Minnesota, talked to Forrester Pack by telephone about three concepts he’d like addressed in this election season.FP: Hello, Dan. Would you tell us which issue is most important to you that you hope gets spotlighted in the state or national elections?Dan Pinotti: I don’t know if they’d have the stomach to do it, but I’d like to see the reasons for the Iraq invasion revisited… [I feel that] Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, former Vice-President Cheney and former President Bush shouldn’t have a respected position in society. I don’t think its okay.FP: Which aspects of their involvment in the ‘War on Terror’ would you like to see investigated?Dan Pinotti: Well, the way the threat [of terrorism] was portrayed. Continue Reading

THREE ISSUES | Environment, constitution, education

In an email interview, David Dougherty, FATHER project GED program developer, discussed three issues he feels are important and should be addressed in the upcoming election season. His top issue?David Dougherty: Environmental. According to the Stern Review (an extensive climate report prepared for the British government in late 2006) and the London School of Economics, climate change mitigation has the potential to require 1/5 of the world’s GDP [to deal with]. According to this report, immediate preventative measures are needed to stem this future disaster. I would like to hear both [presidential] candidates explain their respective stances on environmental issues and outline a plan to protect future generations.TCDP: Whoa, that research does seem to outline a dire situation. Continue Reading