Green Way Or The Highway – Or – Misogynistic Salutations From Those Who Know What You Need
The Visit Greenway project or experiment is loaded with irony: in concept, Blue Cross Blue Shield is donating funding with beautiful aspirations for society, yet the idea that part of my premium, or the premium of a hospice patient that I work with is somehow embedded with this mishmash of color and cattle troughs – meandering from one point to another; with neither a destination of purpose, is tragic and whimsical. You see, this community is not healthy, and this action is like putting colorful underwear on a dying cancer patient who is in pain and delirious. Helping is based on good intentions, and it is necessary to be acute and functional, and at best have a strong science to reinforce what you are doing, but NOT IN THIS SCENARIO.
There’s an irony in the participation of the city of Minneapolis, which is not able to take care of the parks, infrastructure, or true needs of it’s people. Please refer to the $50 million dollar mud vein once known as Nicollet Mall, or the weeds growing through the tennis courts at Folwell Park. There’s a greater irony in an institution such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, which demands specific science and documentation presented for any chance of reimbursement, proselytizing the future with a happy north-south Greenway without any solid research or investment of assessment within THE MILEU OF THIS COMMUNITY. Imaginary thoughts of functional wonderment like that must mean I will be able to write in order for reflexology for a bilateral lower extremity amputee. That was cruel to say and frames the ridicule.
Last night I had the privilege of mingling with a small disproportionate group of white people (7:2,… White: Others), most of whom were vehemently opposed to this greenway project. Many of the proponents, all four that I talked to, were not from North Minneapolis, and although one worked in North Minneapolis, the others lived in South Minneapolis, and one lived in Southeast. Barb Johnson joined us, and carried out her role exceptionally well because she listened to, and acknowledged the feedback from her constituents. She reinforces her support for this trial, and also acknowledged a wide array of frustration.
Now it’s time to pull things apart.
From a social and psychosocial perspective, this community needs far more human engagement, and I am sure Blue Cross Blue Shield could be far more effective; exponentially more effective, by rethinking this investment. This community needs better parenting, better mental health support, and our children need better care. Unemployment is high here, and basic shelter and nutrition is a daily challenge for many people that live in North Minneapolis. Crime is well-known as a distress in our community, and I can’t help but feel that there’s a Blue Cross being painted on a sinking ship. This part of the demographic is very complex. North Minneapolis is more an amalgam than a community in that we are an attracted and combined while holding our own matrix of separate components: racial, ethnic, economic, renter, property owner, criminal, victim , affect, despair and hope. This project is wonderful on paper and in concept. This project, in isolation of benefit would make sense: however, we need to remember our good friend Maslow and the hierarchy of needs: the basic needs of safety, health and well-being are not being met, and fall far below the engagement threshold this project requires.
One of the supporters shared excitement that kids could ride their bikes from North Minneapolis to a “better place” like activities in South Minneapolis, or “perhaps catch a show at first Avenue”. Well, hammocks and play stations in the street are an invitation for disaster when a four-year-old child, or for that matter 30% of our nine-year-olds, don’t exhibit cognitive framework skills for discrimination of setting. In other words a four-year-old that learns to play in a Greenway Street zone is not likely to go to the next parallel street and recognize that that area is NOT a play area. We already have a problem with kids running into the street. It was suggested to me that a 12-year-old would be “fine” riding a bike from North Minneapolis to South Minneapolis. Again, a good heart is found in the best of all idiots (it is not, but could be a great Shakespeare quote).
There are people who need access to the street because they have disabilities, and Minneapolis Public schools need to pick up and drop off children, often using wheelchair lifts. My nurse practitioners visit hospice patients, and carry equipment and pharmacy, and it is unreasonable for them to park half a block away from the house at 3 o’clock in the morning during an emergency visit because of this Greenway fantasy. United Parcel Service and Federal Express don’t utilize the alleyways, and frankly this neighborhood is not inviting people to the back door. This neighborhood has had too much backdoor activity as it is – perhaps some ex leadership of the urban league will soon find their own backdoor activity in prison. (I had to get that in)
This Project: Property owners will lose value, and many people can’t afford or are not able to expand parking in their backyards, nor should they be expected to. The idea that guests to my home would be required to walk a block to my house is ridiculous. The city of Minneapolis could find itself in a legal battle solely on loss of property and passage, and risks the liability of restricting necessary services such as police, fire department, and emergency medical support. Increased traffic on other parallel streets is likely. The reason the city of Minneapolis would fall under liability is because they are the entity that approves, and they have to follow federal and state statutes that determine impact on projects like this. Why? Because federal funding is in our road systems, and even in the public housing which authorizes certificate based on a reasonable assessment of functional living property. Somehow the city of Minneapolis forgot that there are both federal and state statutes that have not been identified and assessed with in this model of Greenway. There are violations against the Americans with disabilities act, and one could make a civil liberties case through proximal isolation.
The real bother to me is the lack of science. Proponents express that the Greenway will also unite the community and help people travel to and from work. There is no evidence that this is true, and the cost to dollar ratio is obtuse to this argument. Just six blocks east Is Fremont Ave., North, which is constructed and determined to be a bike way to meet this goal (notice the green interchange markers and signage). Blue Cross Blue Shield is being very generous and I do feel we should applaud this, but the health benefits of the Greenway are touted with no evidence as it relates to the demographic of this community. Ultimately, the city is in collusion with an external corporate entity, and there is a lack of trust here in North Minneapolis: we are not safe, we are not supported through actions that are accurate: identifying goals and objectives with functional measurement, and we are not cared for.
The majority of this community is not being engaged, and I heard a comment, “we’ve put notices out about these meetings and about this project”, and people know. Hello, did you accurately measure to make sure you are effective in your communication? Show me, show us. The majority of this community is suspicious. Oh, 6:00, 6:30 wish and no structure agenda….
Would Blue Cross Blue Shield consider expanding these design ideas within our city parks where there could be an opportunity for higher supervision and expand our park programs? Blue Cross and Blue Shield might spend its money better by creating a training center in customer service here in North Minneapolis. How about building a facility within walking distance of a large percentage of our citizens. That would be heart healthy in action and support the economy. Perhaps increasing job training opportunities in healthcare professions.
I do need to apologize for writing with a muted tone, because I prefer to eviscerate when impassioned about a topic. I really do appreciate the effort that people are trying to put into this community.
Lastly, this afternoon a nine-year-old girl rode he bike by one of the hammocks, it snagged her jacket, pulled the hammock from the road fasteners, and sent her flying headfirst into the pavement. She did not have a helmet, her grandmother provided first-aid, and loving care that included a purple icy pop. We all got lucky.
Think this through please,
Also, there are many organizations that donate bicycle helmets for those in need