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March 31, 2007

Coalition of the Winning

The good news is that the efforts of the MPD, our building's management team, and at least six residents (by my count) have immeasurably improved the quality of life here in a very short period of time, and we did it by speaking out. This is the only way to keep the information flowing.

I welcome all of the other Mallbrook tenants to join me in sharing information and helping us keep a watch on our neighborhood, starting with our own building and the streets and alleys that surround it. The good news is that this isn't hard or even dangerous.

In the next few weeks I'm going to look into buying an outdoor patio table and chaining it to one of the fences inside of the community garden areas, so that we can spend time outside in the back alley, perhaps get a small charcoal grill, and help get some eyes on the alley. I know that this can be done, because several of the Residence Halls on the University Campus have similar setups. If anyone is known for stealing outdoor furniture and doing crazy/stupid/illegal stuff with it, it's rowdy college guys. So, if the University can pull it off, I'm sure we can set something up in our alley.

Once we have a place to meet, we can hold cookouts and the like. Bring out a transistor radio, listen to baseball games, and generally have peaceful gatherings that are respectful of our neighbors' need for quiet while keeping some eyes on the alley. Spending time back there will give us more opportunities to police it for litter and garbage, and if anyone in the building has a dormant green thumb they might help maintain some of the area gardens.

Thanks again to the folks in the building who've spoken up and helped management to clean up our home. We're winning.

March 16, 2007

Smoking in the Hallways

Today while I was leaving to go to the Wedge for some groceries, there were a couple of people smoking in the hallways. It didn't smell like cigarette smoke, so at first I thought it might be a fire in the building and got a little worried. I asked them if they knew what was wrong, and they told me it was a cigarette and that they were sorry. It was odd. They apologized for the "extra traffic" and told me they were "staying with their Uncle in the building for a while". I didn't ask where they were staying, but wish I had.

Actually, I wish I'd called the police. Next time I see them I'm going to. I did take their photographs however. Here they are--a male and a female who turned her back so I couldn't get her face on camera.

male_hallway_smoker.jpg

female_hallway_smoker.jpg

I calmly told them that I was going to alert the building manager, but the woman was very upset that I took her photograph, and told me she was going to call 911. I would have welcomed that, but I know that the City of Minneapolis has ordinances against smoking in common indoor areas so wasn't worried at all.

A few hours later I decided to start this blog. I need somewhere I can log all of the stuff that happens in this building, because I live here and I don't feel safe. The livability problems contribute to an overall atmosphere of crime and impoverishment that end up inviting larger problems.