Things that go boom in the night

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There is an ongoing mystery in South Minneapolis. Every so often, usually on summer nights, residents hear (and feel) a loud explosion reverberate throughout the neighborhood. Two years ago, a local television station ran a story about these explosions but couldn’t provide an explanation. At the end of April, someone began a discussion thread on the neighborhood forum, E-Democracy, asking about this phenomena. Once the question was posed, theories arrived-the golf course uses explosions to scare away geese or Hiawatha train cars are coupling. But none was conclusive.

Then on May 2, another explosion startled several community members from their beds and led to more urgent posts describing the sound and attempting to identify its location. So far, there is no accepted explanation. The source remains elusive. I mention this oddity not because SENA has been tasked with solving this riddle nor because SENA is secretly responsible for the explosions. I write about it to introduce one of the newest, most-important assets our neighborhood has–the Minneapolis Standish-Ericsson Neighbors Forum on E-Democracy, an incredible on-line forum that lets people share announcements and discussions on neighborhood issues and life specific to the Standish and Ericsson neighborhoods of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

This forum has changed how neighbors can communicate. It is an incredibly useful tool to find referrals, report a lost or found pet, and discuss local issues such as safer pedestrian crossings for 42nd Street. E-Democracy, an international on-line forum, was founded by Steven Clift, one of our very own neighbors, more than 15 years ago. A little more than a year ago, he started a forum just for the Standish and Ericsson neighborhoods, which has become the virtual meeting place and conversation spot for our community.

As SENA changes to adapt to the city’s future funding program, we will depend on creative forums like E-Democracy to provide new conversation platforms and introduce us to each other all over again.  To find out what I am talking about, and perhaps add your own input on the mystery explosions, visit the SENA Web page (www.standish-ericsson.org) and look for the link. In the future, we will rely on this tool to solicit feedback, engage volunteers, and share local news. I realize that not everyone reading this newsletter is able to access the Web at home easily or even wants to try. For those folks, this newsletter will indefinitely remain a primary news source about SENA issues and happenings. But I want everyone to be aware that there is a continuous and informative conversation occurring in the neighborhood that is connecting questions to answers, people to people, problems to solutions, and ideas to actions. So the next time you’re startled out of bed by an odd explosion, you’re likely to find a group of neighbors musing about its whereabouts and comparing notes on-line at E-Democracy.