Sorry for the delay, I was down in Orlando at Disney World wearing my other hat as a meeting planner. It was interesting with all our recent conversations around planned communities to spend time in a hyper planned community. While one can argue about the impact to children’s imaginations and health (and parents sanity, especially during spring break madness) the infrastructure set up is really amazing. Granted, Disney was starting from scratch and had free rein to do whatever Walt wanted, but they devised ways to move people around that are incredibly efficient. 

I ran into a neighbor down there who was attending a medical conference and brought the family. He was particularly impressed by the concept of the Fastpass. For those who haven’t been to Disney amusement parks, it’s a system that allows guests to reserve a time for the popular rides so you don’t have to wait in the long lines. It allows Disney to aggregate the riders more evenly throughout the day. My friend was going to take that idea back to his medical clinic to see if it might help them avoid “rush hours.” 

Then there are the constant circulator buses taking people to all of the amusement parks, taxis to area amenities (paid for with vouchers as part of packages or courtesy arrangements,) bikes, pedal surreys for four, motorized carts for the disabled and wide endless walkways. Ways to get around and access for all ages and abilities. 

While much of this is made possible by the large volumes of people involved and not specifically applicable to our community, I think it reminds us that even if we aren’t starting with a blank slate like Disney, it is sometimes freeing and necessary to think of the larger goals we hope/need to accomplish and work backwards. Too often, potential solutions are stopped in their tracks by limiting our thinking to what currently exists or the way we do things now. Think Galileo, the internet and something as everyday as the watch on most of our wrists or electronic devices. All time-keeping devices used to be mechanical. The Seiko company that led the time-piece revolution didn’t ask how to make mechanicals better, they asked how to keep time better. 

So, what do we want to do better? Housing, energy use, transportation. For the most part we all can agree on the goals and I think we can also agree that what we’re doing now isn’t working very well. New systems wanted, apply now. What seems currently impossible, inconvenient or impractical might become very possible and necessary in just a few years as resources and circumstance change. 

D12 – The Transition Town groups have been paying particular attention to the energy bills moving through our state legislature.  There are several bills, a couple introduced by John Marty and Alice Hausman, that would encourage energy reduction solutions on a community level. Sounds like they are working to consolidate the different bills into one comprehensive one. There are also bonding bills that would provide money for area business ventures and improvements…Nice interview on the D12 website with neighbor Christina Morrison who used to be a St. Paul City planner and now works for Metro Transit. Among other things, including her interest in genealogy and love of StAP, she talks about transportation needs in the urban core. 

SCHOOLS – Timberwolf, Greg Stiemsma, visited the StAP Elementary School as a reward for the 5th graders reading over 1,000 pages as part of the Read to Achieve program…16 Como students moved on to the State level of the History Day Competition which will be held at the U of M on May 4th…the Como choir performed in concert at Carnegie Hall in NYC recently. 

LISTSERV – the St. Paul $1M Challenge is still seeking ideas until April 3. Submit an idea that could help transform St. Paul for the better and you might win the money to get it accomplished. Check it out…more reports of a coyote or several seen around College Park. I haven’t noticed as many rabbits this winter, but that might be a coincidence. I have seen a large hawk that might be competing with the coyotes. I don’t think it’s a red tail but it sure is big…The D12’s Green on the Screen series is presenting a look at the Keystone pipeline entitled White Water Black Gold on Tues. April 2 at 7pm at the Methodist Church…also on film at the Grandview theater tonight at 7pm is the Price of Sand about fracking and its impact.

ST.APnotes – Our branch library will be closed for remodeling for about 6 weeks starting in May. Exact scheduling is still being determined, but there will be user-friendly improvements to several areas. The lower level will still be open for the summer programming events…finally, I don’t always make mention of the passing of our residents even though many have lived interesting lives and are dearly missed. I’m going to make an exception in the case of Paul O’Connor, who recently died at the age of 92. There’s a nice obit in the Strib this morning that describes a pretty special guy. Involved early on in the Manhattan project developing nuclear capabilities, he quickly understood the potential for destruction and opposed its use for both weapons and energy. He then dedicated himself to making science more available to students of all ages which led the family to live in India for several years where Paul helped upgrade that country’s system of higher education. Health issues eventually forced another change of focus and he spent the remainder of his life becoming a significant weaver nationally known for his abilities with difficult stitching techniques. He was quiet but intensely devoted to his art and family. Sympathies to his family, especially son Mike & his wife Marcie and their sons, Robert and Richard, who have been longtime St.AP neighbors. 

That’s all for now. Take care of yourself and be a good neighbor.