The Green Line launch has come and gone. By most accounts it was successful in spite of the typical weather for Saturdays in June this year: rain and wind. 45,000 people or so were reported to have ridden it on launch day, which is more than they estimate will ride it even during rush hour. There were some delays and lines to get on, but overall it performed as expected. A few public criticisms of the 45 minute end to end time have been aired and there will always be those who feel it was money ill-spent for a variety of reasons. There are also those who lament it's path: no stop at the Ordway or Science Museum, no stop at the History Museum or X. In spite of all that, the reality is that it's here, and in my humble opinion even with the shoulda, coulda, woulda hindsights, necessary for the future viability of our area.

Our expectations for transportation times and walking distances will adjust. I've heard business people worry that being 2-3 blocks away from light rail stations will be too far for customers to walk and individuals saying the same thing. Go to any large metropolitan area and take their subways or light rail, you end up walking alot to get to many destinations. I assume the busier stations will attract taxis, pedicabs, etc. as they grow. It will not immediately change our driving habits, but over time that will happen, just as it has on the Hiawatha or Blue line and just as it has in other metro areas. With our urban population expected to grow significantly over the next 30 years, this type of mass transit infrastructure is critical. Try it, you'll like it - or will grow to like it eventually.

Here's one reason: The Little Mekong district on the Green Line will be holding night markets over the summer. Produce, crafts and art will be included and that area is filled with dynamite restaurants. Bring your grocery bag, take light rail, shop, have a delicious dinner and don't worry about the extra glass of wine on the return LRT ride home.

I attended a community briefing about My Brother's Keeper, an initiative launched by President Obama to address the opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color. This piggybacks closely with the racial equity training that the school district has introduced for its teachers over the past few years. At the heart of both is the idea that we will never see significant change in the behavior of this demographic unless we change our behavior toward them. 

I've talked about the challenges and tensions this has brought to our school district, where ultimate goals are shared but implementation has engendered conflict and resistance from some teachers. Clearly, even though we have had a high percentage of dedicated and inclusive teachers over the years, the achievement success of boys and young men of color has not substantially improved. One can argue the cause has its complexities, but that tends to fall away when you are in a session where 3/4's of the audience is non-white and represents a solid swath of educational leadership across the metro - an audience that includes both school superintendents and the mayors of Mpls and St. Paul as well as a representative of the federal government, and the president of the U of M - and all speak with one voice about racism being at the heart of the problem. 

So, how do we as a community move forward on this? Step one clearly is listening to the voices of the those involved. Of the boys and young men. Of their parents and family. Of their communities and of their teachers. Step two is for everyone to have an honest conversation about racism and how it's been institutionalized to deny access and opportunity to our children of color, especially boys and young men. It's hard work and it's painful. There have been and will be missteps in approach and implementation. But, as an African-American speaker at the recent school board meeting said, a few tough years does not compare to 400 years of struggle against racism. More importantly, the point that was repeatedly made at the briefing yesterday - and I thought particularly well by our Mayor, Chris Coleman - is that we will not succeed as a community or as a nation if we do not confront this truth and work together to change it. We need to engage in that challenge now.

Jazz at library tonight 6:30pm
The Brian Nichols Quartet will appear at our very own library tonight. Nichols has traveled the world playing jazz with some very notable musicians and has brought three of them to play with him here. His appearance is a prelude to the Twin Cities Jazz Festival that is coming to St. Paul the weekend of June 26.

Donations Needed for 4th!
It always seems as if people don't send in their contributions to support our great 4th Parade & Picnic until the actual date gets closer. As one of the crew that helps to organize, I can tell you it makes everyone a little nervous as once it's over, people also forget about it pretty quickly. So, please send your check in now before you forget, this amazing volunteer effort does not happen for free. The expenses run around $11,000 so support those faithful volunteers who work so hard to put this together with a check and your time if you are able. Any amount is welcome and appreciated! Please send to: The Fourth in the Park Committee, PO Box 8062, St. Paul, MN 55108 or bring it in to Sunrise Bank, 2300 Como Avenue.

Vols Needed for 4th! 
Volunteers are needed for multiple tasks on the 4th including on the parade route. To volunteer for that or the other areas of need, email Cindy Thrasher. The Booster Club is looking for volunteers to work their famous food table on the 4th of July. Families or individuals can volunteer by clicking on this link. It's enormous fun and a great service to our community rec teams, who use the money to make sports better for our kids. It's also a great way to get to know neighbors. I still have friends I met through those early days of tossing brats and popsicles around on the 4th.

JOTP is having an Open House

This Friday at 6pm and Sunday at noon. That's in addition to being open for every World Cup game shown on their big screen TV. Stop by the SSA rec center to find out more or just watch your favorite team.

Saints Fireworks This Friday
Get out the ear plugs, lawn chairs and bug spray, the Saints will set off some fireworks win or lose this Friday.

Park B4 Dark is tomorrow night rain or shine. I have said this more often than I would like recently, but we often ask ourselves how we can be more like Portland, in transportation choices, urban development, housing...well, we are certainly approaching them in weather conditions. So, get out the rain gear and don't let it stop your fun.

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