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September 23, 2006

Take a stand, cause I'm sure tired of sitting!

The Light Rail of the Twin Cities Metro area currently extends from the Mall of America to downtown Minneapolis. As a sort of "trial" for the new mode of transportation in Minnesota, the present location is successful because it covers high traffic areas, such as the Minneapolis/St. Paul Internation Airport, Metrodome, and the Nicollet Mall. Unfortunately, a bigger social problem resides in the design of the transportation system in the Twin Cities Metro area.

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Despite efforts made to reduce traffic congestion by adding the Light Rail and widening the 494/694 Loop to three lanes, transportation throughout the major metro highways is failing those who use it.

There are usually plenty of alternative options to driving in a car in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. You could hop on one of the various metro transit buses, use the Light Rail, or call a taxi. The larger issue is how to cut down on overall traffic congestion in the entire metro area.

One solution would be to look at where the bulk of traffic is coming from and lighten that load with a new route for the Light Rail. Many Minnesota residents spend 1-2+ hours sitting in traffic jams while dredging their way across the metro to get to work or school. Multiply that by two trips for the whole day and we have the culprit to our transporation mess...a whole lot of sitting! Two of the major stretches of highway are the 494/694 loop and the Highway 394 which cuts east-west across the widest part of the loop. By building a new route for the Light Rail which follows a figure eight path along these major highways, the quantity of long-distance commuting would shrink.

The obvious deterent to this solution is funding. Maybe if we redirected some funding and planning for stadiums that we may never have the pleasure of planting our butts in but once every several years (if we're lucky) and put the funds to where we sit on our butts for hours EVERY SINGLE DAY. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of sitting!

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September 14, 2006

Energy in Midtown Market

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The Midtown Global Market, located on Lake Street in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is overflowing with energy of various sorts. In general, energy could be described as being active. Being full of energy would indicate a high level of activitiy. At the Midtown Global Market, energy is present and active in many different forms.

Before I go into further detail, it would be best to describe the layout of the space so as to create a background for the energy that fills it up. The market is spread out on the first floor of the Midtown Market building. As an empty space, I would describe it as wide open, with few partional walls. There are great windows on some of the exteror walls, allowing natural light to filter inward. The height of the space is relatively significant. In fact, I don't even recall the presence of a ceiling, which made the atmosphere almost outdoors-like.

Energy has been created to fill this space by adding things such as intensly bright color to the walls, upbeat music that carries wall to wall, modest size shops that welcome face-to-face interaction with the shop owners, and aromas that have been carried across seas to reach our senses. From a visual perspective, the shopper's eyes are entertained with the numerous styles and decor set up by each of the shops. Each shop or food vendor is unique because their products are unique to the country they represent.

Shop owners and food vendors can use these energies in the forms of taste, sight, smell, and sound to better market their wares to the consumers. The energetic atmosphere entraps shoppers by amusing them - keeping them curous about what might be around the next corner. Hence, the energy of the Midtown Global Market serves as a marketing/sales tool and in exchange consumers buy their products and experience cultures different from their own - that perhaps they wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to experience elsewhere.