Ah, the peace. The quiet! The feeling of safety! What a new and novel experience for somebody living in the area we call "The Eco Village." This used to be one of the toughest corners of North Minneapolis but in the last few months...
...it has been experiencing weeks with NO CRIME, except of course the constant drug dealing going on inside 3020 6th Street North, which is not showing up on the crime map. But no matter. They're desperately hunkered down in that house, and looking at imminent eviction. The neighborhood has plenty of time to shop for items for the Hawaiian theme party which will involve DANCING THE HULA ON THEIR (FORMER) FRONT LAWN.
This is the meaningful, transformative adventure we have in our neighborhood. This is why would-be urban pioneers need to pack their hammers and head up here from sub-bore-ia.
"Patty Cake" came by last Saturday with Easter baskets for me, Hawthorne Housing Director Jeff Skrenes, and my son, pictured above. We drove to the SoLow store where I was able to get goat cheese for a mere 99 cents. I'll never lose weight with the SoLow store tempting me with bargain basement deals on gourmet cheeses.
"Patty Cake" splurged and bought me some strange foods I wanted to try, including pickled date palm fronds. She questioned me in her car as though I were in police custody: Why do I constantly sample strange foods? What drives me to do it? When and where did it all begin?
It began, with so many things, with my father. He went to a lot of different places all over the world during World War II. He told us stories about the weird foods he had eaten, sometimes out of pure desperation. It's a matter of historical record that military supply lines were stretched very thin in the battle to capture New Guinea. Enough said. We won't go there. Not everything tastes like chicken, some things taste like PORK.
My image of my father's worldliness, his manly adventures in exotic places, was inextricably bound up with the notion my father had TRIED EVERYTHING. I wanted to be just like him when I was little, and when I became older I wanted to beat and exceed him. Thus: eating exotic foods like silk worm pupae. (Which are not considered exotic where silkworm pupae is commonly eaten. Do you know what is considered strange and unappetizing in most of Asia? CHEESE!!! No, seriously!)
The thing is...I ACTUALLY LIKE EATING CRAZY STUFF. It's not like I'll have to choke down the pickled date palm fronds, which look a little bit like fishing lures.
In my experience--which is considerable--there's a whole world of foods that come in jars and/or cans and are all pretty much the same: the Tastes Like Pickled Cabbage family of exotic but somewhat disappointing foods.
Banana flower blossoms? Taste like pickled cabbage. Hearts of palm? Tastes like pickled HEARTS of cabbage. Kim Chi? Well, OK, that actually IS pickled cabbage, it just SOUNDS exotic.
Driving around after shopping at SoLow, we made a 911 call on a vacant, condemned house at 2127 Lyndale Ave. N. where a bunch of aimless young men had simply taken over the back porch, and even had a sentry posted out on the sidewalk with a cell phone, watching traffic. It was Holy Saturday, so it took the police a while and we didn't actually see if the police showed up, but about half an hour later, the porch was empty.
We're trying hard to bring the peace and quiet found in the Eco Village to the rest of the Hawthorne Neighborhood.
Relentless, never ending calls to 911 and 311 seem to make headway in that regard.
But Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of last week represented PROGRESS. Patty Cake could attend her church and give thanks instead of praying intensely that no intruders would get inside her bunker. I hear talk of so-called "investors" buying up a lot of property in North Minneapolis. One prays some of them might be flippers and not just wannabe slumlords. We've got a little something planned for wannabe slumlords, and it's coming in a future blog post.
From where I'm standing, we are WINNING the battle to create urban utopia out of the wreckage of the mortgage foreclosure crisis. And a peaceful, beautiful Easter in the Eco Village was part of the proof.