Appointed Officials Set To Okay Illegal Coldwater Spring Project

 

Ducks at Coldwater Spring as it was...

Ducks at Coldwater Spring as it was…

Two sets of appointed officials are lined up to okay a project that explicitly violates the law. The Metropolitan Council is promoting sewer replacement construction that contravenes the Coldwater protection law by threatening the flow to this 10,000 year old spring.

UPDATE: * The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District meeting to discuss & vote on the sewer project permit  was postponed to Thursday, March 26 to allow more time for the public to comment.

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District is set to permit the project with assurances about “contingency plans” for unforeseen circumstances, “restoring” Coldwater Springs after “temporary” dewatering, and orders to monitor the spring daily during the 2-year construction project.

Take action. Ask that sewer construction be redesigned to the location of the current pipe without tearing up the north end of Minnehaha Park and threatening the flow to Coldwater Springs:

Adam Duininck, Chair, Metropolitan Council, 651-602-1390 or adam.duininck@metc.state.mn.us

Lars Erdahl, Administrator, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, 952-641-4505 or lerhahl@minnehahacreek.org

National Park Service, 651-293-8438 or http://www.nps.gov/miss, click on Coldwater and follow prompts

THE LAW – Section 1.  [PROTECTION OF NATURAL FLOW.]

Neither the state, nor a unit of metropolitan government, nor a political subdivision of the state may take any action that may diminish the flow of water to or from Camp Coldwater Springs.  All projects must be reviewed under the Minnesota Historic Sites Act and the Minnesota Field Archaeology Act with regard to the flow of water to or from Camp Coldwater Springs. (passed in 2001)

 The language of the law is specific, forbidding “any action that may diminish the flow.” Not “temporary” dewatering, not permanent dewatering—no “action that may diminish.” The language of the contingency planning (below) is slippery.

Coldwater is the last major natural spring in Hennepin County, is where the soldiers who built Fort Snelling lived (1820-23) and where a civilian pioneer community gathered to service the fort. Some consider Coldwater to be the birthplace of Minnesota. The spring furnished water to Fort Snelling 1820-1920.

THE PROJECT: Metropolitan Council Environmental Services (MCES) project 1-MN-344 Tunnel Improvement:   A sanitary sewer pipe is scheduled to be replaced at the north end of Minnehaha Park. It is an underground construction, about 45 to 50 feet below the surface, with two 18-foot diameter access shafts cut through bedrock at either end, and a 44 by 60-foot subsurface vault. Groundwater “will just flow around” these subterranean buried structures after construction planners reported at Minnehaha Creek Watershed District board meeting (1/29/15).

 A replacement 1,000-foot pipe would run horizontally below Minnehaha Creek, the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit line and Highway 55 to replace a 1930s-era sanitary sewer pipe. The project is scheduled to run for two years from this summer to June of 2017.

 Both groundwater and deep well dewatering is planned that is, pumping water out from above the limestone bedrock and below in the sandstone. Daily monitoring at Coldwater is called for.

Assurances by experts of “no loss of flow” from the Highway 55 reroute resulted in the permanent loss of nearly a quarter of the flow to Coldwater. MnDOT was court-ordered to monitor the spring flow for 20 months post-construction. Despite the Coldwater protection law a permanent, daily loss of flow of 27,500 gallons was reported.

Before Highway 55 reroute construction the flow to Coldwater was measured at about 130,000 gallons a day. Now the flow rate is about 84,000 gallons daily. Adding the 27,500 daily dewatering lost to Coldwater to the current flow of 84,000—there is a mystery loss of more than 18,000 gallons

Coldwater Spring

Coldwater Spring

CONTINGENCY PLANS FOR PROBLEMS 

Consultants at the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District meeting admitted that the “contingency plans” are unknown, that conditions are “unforeseeable,” that an observer will be on site to come up with “reasonable solutions.” 
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Pagans to Join ReclaimMLK March on Monday

If you haven’t seen social media, or national news, or been to Mall of America, or even seen the Oscar nominations, you have been hiding. Black Lives Matter! There is a movement afoot to wake America up, and Monday you can help shake us from our slumber!

For Minnesota Pagans, this movement has stimulated a lot of online debate, analysis of our privilege, and discussion of our response.  Well, “Words are Wind”, and Monday many Pagans hope to change that with action. Several area Pagans have pledged on social media to attend the march, and some are meeting in advance to make signage and arrive together.

http://fergusonaction.com organizers are encouraging this weekend of events to reclaim the legacy of Martin Luther King with national resistance to injustice and demand action. The TC metro area has a March planned for Monday 1/19/15 at 1:00 PM in St. Paul, MN at. Snelling and University Ave .

From the Facebook event:

Join us for a March to #ReclaimMLK as part of a national day of action.We can’t stop now. Eyes on the prize. Text @BlackLives to 23559 for action updates

Martin Luther King Jr’s life’s work was the elevation, honoring, and defense of Black Lives. His tools included non-violent civil disobedience and direct action. Dr. King was part of a larger movement of women, and men, queer, and straight, young and old. This movement was built on a bold vision that was radical, principled, and uncompromising. The freedom fighters who believed in this vision were called impractical, rash, irrational, and naive. Their tactics were controversial. Some elders distanced themselves from what was then a new movement for change. Some of the older generation joined in. Our movement draws a direct line from the legacy of Dr. King.

Unfortunately, Dr. King’s legacy has been clouded by efforts to soften, sanitize, and commercialize it. Impulses to remove Dr. King from the movement that elevated him must end. We resist efforts to reduce a long history marred with the blood of countless women and men into iconic images of men in suits behind pulpits.

From here on, MLK weekend will be known as a time of national resistance to injustice.This MLK weekend we will walk in the legacy of Dr. King and the movement that raised him. We will #ReclaimMLK http://fergusonaction.com/reclaim-mlk/

OUR DEMANDS:

Our basic demands are an immediate end to the unjust police murders of unarmed Black people, including Black children and teens, and for Minnesota to take measures to eliminate our worst in the country racial disparities. Our initial policy demands include:

1. Adopt statewide legislation to end racial profiling.
2. Require all Minnesota law enforcement officers to take implicit bias and cultural competency training.
3. Establish an independent community review board for police departments with full disciplinary powers and establish a federal oversight system.
4. Increase the number of officers that live in the communities they serve and immediately repeal the 1990 “Stanek Residency Freedom Bill.”
5. De-militarize local law enforcement across the country.

We also demand that Bloomington City attorney Sandra Johnson and the Mall of America halt the outrageous charges and restitution for “lost revenue” and “police overtime” being threatened against “organizers” of our peaceful gathering at the MOA. This is an evolving list. We want to form a community commission to address the biggest racial disparities in policing in the United States now. We won’t wait. Black lives are at stake. We remember Terrance Franklin.

BlackLivesMatterMinneapolis

 

Nels Linde

Shoe Shrines in West Wisconsin

photo: George Adams

photo: George Adams

On a backwater road in West Wisconsin there are shoes. Shoes nailed to guard rail posts, hanging from trees, even planted with flowers. Work shoes, dance shoes, running shoes, prom shoes, they are all on the roadside.  There are many possible explanations from ghosts to magic, a traveler’s shrine to a teenage prank. Their presence at the road side could be all of these reasons, or none. What you see for sure is amazed people slowing or stopping to look in wonderment.

Shoes have always been a potent vehicle and symbol used in magic.  Shoes are very personal.  Over time they take the exact shape of the wearers foot, and are a reflection of who they are.  There are forms of Southern “conjure work” where the magic is activated through contact with shoes.

In many cultures there existed a prehistoric custom of killing a person and placing the body in the foundation of a new building to insure that the building holds together. Later as this practice lost favor shoes were used as a substitute for a human sacrifice.

In early American and many European homes renovation has discovered many shoes placed within walls. About half the shoes found were children’s shoes and may have been intended to bestow fertility on a female member of the household.  Women’s shoes are more commonly found than men’s. The shoes are almost invariably well-worn, perhaps because the donor didn’t want to waste an expensive new shoe on the project, or perhaps because a well-worn shoe is more likely to retain the shape of the wearer’s foot and hence his spirit.  They may have been concealed as magical charms to protect the occupants of the building against evil influences.

A rancher will sometimes put boots on the fencepost to honor the passing of a beloved horse, a hired hand or fallen comrade.  A rancher would indicate he was home and the workday was over by hanging boots on the fence at the start of his lengthy entry road. When dating, a single woman in a trailer court would often place a suitors boots outside the door as a sign no gentleman callers were appreciated at this time!

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The above shoes are from March 2004, a Saint Patrick tribute?

Why all these shoes, and why here, on a low traveled highway in Wisconsin? The obvious explanation is that these roadside shoes are a living shrine to travel. Shoes represent us leaving home, getting on the road, and moving.  I observe these shoes nearly each time I leave home. When I see them again, I am almost back home safely. But how did they all get there, and who put them there?

I have observed this shrine for over fifteen years. At one point there were over fifty shoes on one guard rail. It is ever-changing because the highway maintenance crew periodically removes them all.  This was a shock the first time I noticed their absence. Now the mysterious petitioners nail the shoes on so they are harder to remove.  Recently they began appearing as tied together pairs hanging from the roadside trees, twenty feet in the air!

My kids passed on two local explanations circulated by the teen population. The shoes are “trophies” from the high school prom season. If you got “lucky’ on prom night a couple’s shoes (or their friends may choose representative shoes) would be stolen or donated to add to the highway shrine. You may notice an increase of shoes in May each year, and some brightly painted high heels are often included.

The other local story is a ghost story spread by the teens. It is “reported” that in the late 1800’s two children (boy and girl) were lost in a snow storm (some say from the house just round the corner on the north side of 64) . No one ever heard of them again until their shoes were found near the current shoe bearing hilltop the following spring. Since that time the ghosts of the two children have made appearances to local folks (well teens mainly). As the story goes, people place shoes there hoping the children’s spirits will take a pair and they will move on. Another version is the children were murdered and their spirits keep adding the shoes to remind us the killers were never caught.

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Renee, a local woman for fifty plus years now, contributed this authoritative explanation. This was started by some neighborhood kids having a little country fun back in the late 70’s early 80’s.  It eventually became a larger neighborhood game. At a birthday party teens were sometimes asked to bring an old shoe. It was part of the party fun to go nail another shoe to the post.

What these shoes represent to you is defined by your perspective and inclination. They night be a simple prank, or a deep magical act. I do know they catch my attention each time I pass, and that is no coincidence!

Nels Linde

Shoe shrines are all located along Wi. State Highway 64. A few boots appear on fence posts just East of New Richmond, Wi, then a guardrail shrine and tree hung shoes appear just 100 yards past the Saint Croix County Line entering into Dunn County. A third guardrail shrine with flower planted shoes appears on Hwy 64 between State Highway 25 and Hwy 53 near Bloomer ,Wi.

President Obama Saved My Life – Open Enrollment Ends

When Barack Obama was first elected president it was with a surge of support from liberal supporters. Advocates for everything from free speech, peace movements, closure of Guantanamo Bay prison, and restoration of civil rights removed during the “War on Terror” expected to see large changes.

I have lived long enough to see how few electoral promises get brought to fruition. My expectations were not very high. As the focus of president Obama turned to the passage of some sort of health care reform, I watched as many of the most progressive features of the Affordable Care Act were removed or crippled in their ability to really provide affordable care for the breadth of the American people. In the end at least a bill was passed and put in place.

This bill as passed the congress was meant to benefit people like myself and my spouse. Most of our lives we have been self-employed and fall into that category of the “working poor”. When our kids were at home we qualified for subsidized medical assistance. As our children left the nest we found ourselves making too much income to qualify for health care assistance, and at our age (approaching sixty) and with some underlying pre-existing conditions, unable to afford or be approved by any insurance company.

After several years without any health insurance and thankfully only minor health problems we looked forward to the arrival of comprehensive health coverage through the Affordable Care Act. The months of public accusations and scare tactics attacking the arrival of “Obama Care” were not enough to scare us into trying to survive until we qualified for medicare in five years!

When the initial open enrollment period online opened, the reports of problems signing up caused us to decide to wait. A quick look at the program disclosed no coverage was to begin until at least January 2014 anyway, and as reported signup problems persisted the deadline for eligibility for earliest January first coverage kept being pushed back. After Thanksgiving I resolved to get us signed up, whatever it took!

I am web savvy so when I started having problems signing up I was able to figure out what they were about pretty fast. That does not mean it was easy to get past them. Their database did nor recognize my address, 1 ½ Street, as valid. Neither would it recognize my road’s other name, County Road “K”. I had filled out the entire form, bypassing the message that I had entered a undeliverable mailing address, only to find I could not proceed to actually choose a health plan.

I got on the phone to the health plan phone bank help line. Over the next week I talked to at least four different phone representatives. Each was completely polite and as helpful as they could be, considering they were talking to someone getting more and more frustrated! Thankfully I was able to call during off-peak hours so I had practically no wait time to get through. Each of the first three calls involved going over the problem, where it was at, what I encountered and where it was left. The first two times were spent going over trying to “reload” my basic account information, which was where my address error was. The third time the assistant left me with the advice that I would have to delete my account and start over. After now spending over six hours on the phone, starting our application over was not what I wanted to hear! I fumed a couple of days, then finally deleted my profile and started over again. This time as soon as I encountered the address problem, and the previously recommended solution did not work, I called into the help desk again. This time I assertively explained the problem, its history, and demanded to talk to a supervisor. I was eventually connected with a supervisor.

They were really understanding of my frustration, and he volunteered to take over my application and enter information on his end so he could see exactly the problem, do some work-around magic, and move past it. We stayed on the phone for another ninety minutes until my application was complete, and for the first time I could see the health plan options available, and at what subsidy level was appropriate for our family income.

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People of the Land – Editorial

South fork of Hay River

South fork of Hay River

Discussion of Paganism often centers around what a Pagan  is. Terms like “nature-centered” always come up, and occasionally reference to the spirituality of the countryside is spoken. I like to think of Pagans as people of the land. It is a vague term and many people can be considered people of the land without having any particular spiritual belief. I take some pride in the term Pagan. I am a Pagan connected to a piece of land.

I realized recently what a rare relationship I have with land. I have lived on and had an intimate relationship with the same piece of land for thirty eight years. It is not so rare in rural areas where people often reside in the same location for generations. For people who associate their spiritual beliefs with the land, and for  Pagans, the opportunity to spend hundreds of hours in total solitude on an individual piece land is uncommon. I am not referring to the casual acts of living, work, and recreation, but time spent in meditation and direct observation of the land, its plants, and creatures.

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I confess, much of this time was spent in the acts of fishing and hunting, and preparing for these activities. The time walking, looking, sitting, and directly observing the land is all a part of this. These activities have a directed purpose, which didn’t distract from developing an intimate relationship with the land.

Young Forest photo: UNH.edu

A long term relationship with land teaches you how temporary are the things  we think are permanent. My land embraces a river, and rivers are ever changing. I can’t count the number of times this little river has changed its course, each fallen tree or rock diverting the flow from its established path. Fragile stream banks erode away, cliffs collapse, and a spring log jam can start the deposit of a new stream bank. A severe flood can scour out a new deep fishing hole and a large influx of eroded dirt can silt in a beautiful rocky rapids. These changes occur without any relation to what we  as humans may want, or what we spiritually wish and pray for as best for the land.

Land changes in its type, spanning the whole range from agriculture, to grassland and meadow, to brushy pasture, and eventually to mixed forest. Human intervention often controls these changes. In my part of the world the land was once all a conifer forest, then it was cleared by humans for settlement. The natural progression is for grassland and meadow to move back to forest.  Fire can maintain a meadow, killing the woody plant starts,  but fires are often not enough. As soon as human intervention stops, the land rapidly returns to woods.

Most of us are not aware of how many of plant species which fill our world are foreign and invasive. I had a campaign of meadow fires to help bring back a stand of Blue Gentian here. It is a fairly rare and beautiful meadow flower easily overwhelmed with foreign grasses and plants. I have seen a meadow go from grassland to brush and on to a young wood of popple, birch, and pine. A meadow first gathers up prickly ash and stag horn sumac to begin shading the grass out. Then the denser and slower growing ironwood and hop hornbeam pop in wearing dark stockings at their trunk base. The now shady and brushy young woods supports the spread of taller growing birch and popple, and even these eventually give way to maple and ash. The land moves from easy to walk through, to nearly impenetrable with brush, and eventually to a “park like” mature wood, in the span of a lifetime.

These are relationships with change. People of the land receive deep lessons about change, and apply it to their own lives. The feeling of powerlessness in the face of nature and the attitude of “power over” nature come from a severe disconnect that is foreign to landed Pagans. Humans often confuse what is best for us as humans, with what is best for the land.

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