Downtown Task Force has unique opportunity
To the editor:
I am excited about the recently formed Downtown Redevelopment Plan and Task Force. As I am no longer a resident or business owner within city limits I am unable to participate on the Task Force. However, that doesn’t diminish my desire to see Waconia improve to its full potential.
This is the opportunity for visionaries with big, bold ideas. Vibrant downtowns are aesthetically pleasing with curb appeal, gathering places, green spaces, walking paths, bike lanes, and a thriving arts scene.
Desirable downtowns incorporate forward-thinking sustainability and attract entrepreneurs and start-up businesses. And we have the unique advantage of developing the downtown/lake connection.
San Luis Obispo in California is a town that prides itself on making recreation and social interaction easier and is described in Dan Buettner’s book, “Thrive,” as one of the world’s happiest places. The reasons for this are many but it all began in the early 1970s with the controversial decision to close Monterey Street to cars and replace it with a public park, now Mission Plaza. They continue to make progressive decisions to this day with dynamic results.
There are many models out there, from Boulder, Colo., to Serenbe, Ga. My hope is that these models will be studied and steps taken to integrate some of these principles.
Thank you to the Task Force members for your time, commitment and collaboration in this important endeavor.
City’s efforts to use less road salt is appreciated
To the editor:
Last Thursday, Feb. 7, the 12th annual Road Salt Symposium, sponsored by the Freshwater Society, was held at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. About 175 people — public works officials, traffic experts, other road officials and workers, plus environmentalists — came together to discuss the use of salt on roads to make roads safer during and after snowstorms. The problem is that salt doesn’t disappear but accumulates in our wetlands, lakes and streams, affecting water quality and aquatic life.
During the symposium, Craig Eldred, director of Waconia’s public services department, was listened to and recognized for his work. His department is trying to enhance water quality by finding ways to cut down on salt.
Eldred said, “It’s a big thing, trying to protect water,” and added that using less salt also saves money. Applying salt to roads before it snows and using a wide range of chemicals, new treatment techniques, have helped Waconia’s public service department to use less salt.
I for one appreciate Craig Eldred’s work in caring for our fragile but awesome environment.
Downtown building could be senior, youth facility
To the editor:
The probability is that we will lose the Dueber’s store in downtown Waconia.
Recently, discussions have centered around a use that will take the store off the tax rolls. Another option has been thrown about. What we do not have in Waconia is a senior center or a youth center. Imagine the store converted to a roller skating rink with a shuffle board area and two or more horseshoe pits in a back corner. Then include a seating area with a few barrels and checker boards.
A facility such as a roller skating rink would also be available for broom ball, indoor soccer, even indoor lacrosse. Even though such a facility owned by the city would take the property off the tax rolls, the facility would be a revenue generator to cover the taxes and provide another source of jobs for teenagers.
Gun violence dialogue failed to be respectful
To the editor:
“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the LORD of hosts’” – Zechariah 4:6
In this spirit we at Shepherd of the Hill – the church with the rocking chair – have chosen to cancel the First Tuesday Dialogues previously announced for Feb. 19 and March 5 on Gun Violence in America.
The First Tuesday Dialogues serve a single purpose: examination of critical public issues locally and globally with respectful listening and speaking in the search for common ground and the common good. The program expresses our own Christian tradition whose Preliminary Principles of Church Order (adopted in 1789) honor individual conscience and direct us toward mutual kindness and patience.
The First Principle -“God alone is Lord of the conscience…” – upholds “the still, small voice” in the midst of social earthquakes, winds and fires. It requires us to listen. Ours is a tradition that honors dissent. The voice of one may be where the truth lies. The Dialogues are meant to give voice to that voice on critical public issues. The Fifth Principle declares that “There are forms and truths with respect to which people of good character and conscience may differ, and, in all these matters, it is the duty of individuals and of societies to exercise mutual forbearance” It is our tradition’s answer to Rodney King’s haunting question: Can’t we all just get along?
These historical principles are not only our historical tradition. They represent a daily interpretation of Jesus’ teaching to love our neighbors in the present moment. One can only love God, whom no man or woman has seen, wrote the Apostle Paul, if we love the neighbor we do see. How we treat the neighbor is how we treat God.
The success of Shepherd of the Hill’s community programs depends upon a wider acceptance of these principles of respectful listening and exchange among individuals in dialogue.
They also assume a group small enough to engage each other more personally and thoughtfully. If numbers were the only measure of success, last Tuesday’s Dialogues event on gun violence featuring Chaska Chief of Police Scott Knight and Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson was a huge success as 138 people attended. The Chapel was filled.
I thought perhaps it was Easter! But it wasn’t Easter. There was tension in the room. The established habit of the Dialogues program – one person speaks at a time without interruption or rebuttal, no clapping, and respectful listening – gave way to a sense of one team versus another.
When a woman dared to stand to ask how many people there had lost a loved one to gun violence and proceeded to tell her story of personal tragedy, she was not met with compassion. She was met with shouts that her story was irrelevant. By the time the other voices had been quieted, the woman had finished her story of a horrible tragedy. She deserved better.
We all deserve better than to be shouted down, no matter what our experiences or views are. One first-time visitor who was there to oppose gun control shared his puzzlement over the treatment of the woman.
“How could anyone not have compassion for her pain?” he asked. “Everyone should be moved to compassion by her story of personal tragedy, no matter what we think about the Second Amendment.”
America always jeopardizes its promise as a place of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness when might and power rule. To the extent that we fear that we are unsafe, it will be because we have chosen to ignore the wise word to Zerubbabel to live not by might, nor by power, but by God’s spirit reflected in the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Lots of people have asked about the rocking chair on the front lawn. Why is it there? What does it stand for?
After the Amish school room massacre in Pennsylvania several years ago – very much akin to what happened at Sandy Hook – Minnesota Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” aired a commentary called “My Amish Rocker.”
It was about a more peaceful, forgiving, and loving way of life, the amazing picture of the Amish buggies clip-clopping their way past the home of the man who had murdered their children, tipping their hats respectfully to the killer’s family, on the way to the funeral of their own slaughtered children.
The story on MPR was about my Amish rocking chair, made for me by Jacob Miller of Millersburg, Ohio and the opportunity it gives me to think again about who I am in a violent world.
The chair on Shepherd of the Hill’s lawn is there to invite the world to a different way of life.
It reminds passers-by to slow it down. Stop speeding through life on the way to who-knows-where. Take a seat. Rock a while. Breathe deeply. Get in touch with the deep things of the human spirit. Be quiet and listen, like the Amish, for the still, small voice which, in the end, is the only Voice at all.
Rev. Gordon C. Stewart
Pastor of Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church in Chaska
Organization helps those
suffering from infant loss
To the editor:
I am part of an organization called 11 Angels. We serve families in and around the Minneapolis metropolitan area, including Waconia and surrounding communities, that are suffering from the loss of a child through miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant death.
Some of the many services offered by 11 Angels include companionship through labor and delivery if desired by the family, memory making to help preserve a lifetime of memories in a short time that families have with their child, and immediate and ongoing support for the family and extended family.
The organization is volunteer-driven and each of the volunteers has received training and is pursuing a certification through Loss Doulas International. All of our volunteers have experienced a loss of a child either one of their own or one that was very close to them.
Pre-term and infant loss is not something that gets talked about a lot, yet is more prevalent than one may think. One out of every four pregnancies will end in miscarriage, before 20 weeks gestation, and more than 26,000 babies are stillborn, born after 20 weeks gestation, in the United States each year.
As is the loss of any child, the loss of a child though miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant death is very difficult for a family, and the support of someone who understands can be invaluable.
11 Angels asks you to please consider a financial contribution to our Valentine’s Day annual giving campaign Give With Your Heart. Any amount is appreciated as unfortunately the need is greater than our resources. Donations can be made online at www.11-angels.org or checks can be made out and mailed to 11 Angels, Star Legacy Foundation, 11305 Hawk High Court, Eden Prairie, MN 55306.
11 Angels is a project of, and supported by, Star Legacy Foundation a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to pregnancy and infant loss research, education and prevention. All donations made to Star Legacy Foundation for the 11 Angels Project are tax deductible and greatly appreciated to help cover program expenses and ensure ongoing services are free of charge to other families in need.
If you know of a family who could benefit from our services, please encourage them to reach out to 11 Angels at www.11-angels.org or call our 24 hour phone line at (612) 868-2767 for assistance or to learn more.
Editor’s note: The author is the founder and executive co-director of 11 Angels.