Saturday, July 10, 2010

John And Alex On Patrol Around Bryant Ave. N. (Summer Visitation, 2010)

Photos and blog post by John Hoff

Lest we forget: it was in February, 2008 that Minneapolis City officials asked good citizens to informally "adopt" vacant houses, a process which involves mowing grass and picking up litter. The City DOES NOT consider this helpful activity to be trespassing, as documented in a Star Tribune article, click here.

Acting under what I call the "Adopt Vacant Houses Mandate," I went out on patrol with my son Alex in the area around my home on Bryant Ave. N. In the photo above, Alex is recycling one of the approximately 15 phone books we picked up. What a waste of trees! I did manage to expand my...

...fridge magnet collection quite a bit, though. I'm obsessed with fridge magnets and probably have, like, a thousand of them. Whatever is displayed on my fridge reflects my current circumstances, sort of. I have magnets from driving jobs in Kentucky, for example. Some day I'd like to have steel panels in a "man cave" garage and display the whole glorious collection.

So, yeah, anyway...I got some fridge magnets from recycling all those phone books with Alex.

Walking by this house on my block, we found out new neighbors had moved in and were making fixes. They were Hmong and didn't speak much English, but they spoke enough for us to understand they were owners, not renters, and excited about fixing up their newly-purchased residence.

Here's an example of a duplex where the top floor is condemned, but not the bottom floor. Alex holds a phone book bag he picked up somewhere else.

Alex poses with a sign knocked down and laying on the boulevard, near the notorious Hawthorn (sic) Crossings strip mall.
Newly-acquired fridge magnets hold up a drawing showing plans for housing at the Hawthorne EcoVillage. I keep stuff like this on my fridge to remind me my neighborhood is progressing, getting better all the time. When my kid fetches a Dr. Pepper from the fridge, he also sees my dedication to the neighborhood. Incredibly, there are times when my son Alex would rather go on patrol than play video games.

Though I do patrols all the time--by myself, with my son, with neighbors--this was a patrol I happened to document. If North Minneapolis neighbors want to live in a better neighborhood, I strongly suggest going on patrol. It's amazing how many calls you can make to 311 and 911, what an impact you can have in only an hour.

Besides, you might meet some new neighbors!


Anonymous said...

When I was a kid I went to summer camp. How lucky Alex must be to spend his summer picking up trash.

Michael Spivak said...

In the second to last pic, he looks very much like a younger you.

Johnny Northside! said...

To the anonymous commenter at 12:25.

Maybe you should check to see whether your summer camp still exists, or whether all the trees have been cut down to make phone books for companies like Dex, so the phone books can be ignored until somebody volunteers to come around and put the phone books in the recycle bin.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 1225am: your parents sent you away to summer camp because they didn't love you and wanted to send you away.

I wish I could do the same thing to you right now.

emma. said...

When I was a kid I didn't get shipped off to summer camp - I spent time with my parents and other family.

Anonymous said...

Most phone books are made with trees from sustainable tree farms specifically grown for the purpose, but I agree with you about the obsolescence of dead tree technology.

That's why I'm a little troubled to learn that you want to install a wood fence to replace your metal one. Do you think the earth will just make another metal fence on a tree?

Do you think that the old growth tree that gets devoted to your fence deserves to be killed so that you can be slightly more stylish?

Johnny Northside! said...

Two words: Repurposed wood.

That's what I intend to make my fence out of.

Kevin said...

There's an ad currently running on the radio about something or another - probably recycling. Anyway it states 85% of phone books delivered to American households are tossed in the trash. I don't care if the trees they're made from are grown on sustainable farms. It's still a huge waste.

veg*nation said...

reducing the number of printed phonebooks is an awesome goal, and i salute your attention to this issue!

in the meantime, there are a couple of uses for phone books:

a FEW phonebooks: i hold on to phone books and throw them into the compost bin occasionally--especially if i see any flies, which tells me that i need to balance out yhr more nitrogen-rich compost items like fruit.

a LOT of phonebooks: also, i saved up a lot of phone books to use when i converted my front lawn from turf to a perenniel garden. the most eco-friendly way to kill turf is to lay down a thick layer of newspaper, cardboard, etc., and then cover with mulch, because the phonebooks will eventually biodegrade under these circumstances (unlike in the anaerobic conditions of a landfill). so, if anyone in the eco village is planning replace their lawn with a rain garden or native perennials, they might be able to make use of these wasteful phone books.

Johnny Northside! said...

You rock, Veg Nation. Thanks for those helpful tips!

Patrick said...

That's a great suggestion. We should all tear out pages of phonebooks and cover our lawns. This would improve the air because we would no longer have to mow and it would get rid of the pages in those pesky phonebooks. Far better suggestion than driving a gas guzzeling car to the Dex office to drop the phonebooks off uncomposted. Thanks Veg!

Johnny Northside said...

Patrick is a troll, and Patrick continues to suck.

Hey, Patrick, have you ripped down that shooting memorial yet like you promised?

Persephone said...

Gosh, it never even occurred to me that these things were compost-able. What a great idea!

Johnny Northside said...

If you find an old phone book in the dirt after, like, being out in the weather for a year in the yard of some vacant house...and you pull it up, it's like, full of dirt on the bottom and worms, becoming one with the earth.

That's when you realize how compost-worthy they actually are.

Now if only the phone companies would use biodegrable plastic bags.

Anonymous said...

I do not have a thing against summer camps and i went to camp while attending Minneapolis Public schools back in the 70s.It was called Camp Tamarac and it was located near Hinckley on the St. Croix river.It was funded by the city of Minneapolis and all kids who attended were students of the Minneapolis school and poor.It taught us alot about life and getting along with others.I cherish those memories very much.With that being said....Boathead is telling the troll named patrick to F*** off you worthless piece of shit.This man spends all kinds of time with his son and does not get him for valuable time together to "Ship him off" to camp you idiotic dumbshit.T^he only part of your made up name that is correct is the "Trick" part,because you are definitely a"TRICK".Look it up in your street slang book,"Trick!"

Anonymous said...

Boat excuses himself(GAS).My comment was directed at no nuts anon12:25.Hey "TRICK"...F*** off anyhow!

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

Adopting vacant properties, addressing sign spam, and picking up phone books! Thanks, John, it's like I never left!

I'll be back in the states soon, and hope to do a blog post or two more from Tanzania.

(Comment submitted from Dar es Salaam.)