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JP Rennquist Posts

It’s not the snowfall, it’s the snowdrifts

“It’s not the snowfall, it’s the snowdrifts.” I just realized that’s kind of a northcountry version of “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.”

I give yesterday’s storm about a 6 out of 10 for Duluth snowstorms in terms of intensity and general nastiness. However, I think this might be the biggest drift I’ve encountered in the 12 years I’ve been at this house.

Getting to the Bottom of the Proposed Polymet Mine Part 2, Winona LaDuke

After much, much hand wringing and editing and processing and sweating and arguing with myself, here is a passable video of the lecture by Winona LaDuke that was delivered on Feb. 8 at the College of St. Scholastica. I think that the message she is sharing is important to hear and try to understand, whether or not you agree with her conclusions. One of her central theses seems is that people have been living and thriving in this region for thousands of years and in the past 100 or 200 years there have been significant and undesirable, even toxic, changes to the land, the waters, and the creatures and people who populate this region.

Getting to the Bottom of the Proposed Polymet Mine, Part 1

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I’m hoping that this video, featuring Paula Maccabee of Water Legacy, will be the first of several that I will be able to share over the next few weeks.

Trampled by Turtles’ song deserves Oscar

There I was, sitting in a cavernous multiplex theater at Duluth 10. The movie, The Way Way Back, is one that I had actually chosen by accident. Or chosen erroneously, I mean. The Mrs. and I were on an impromptu date night and picked The Way Way Back thinking that it was actually another movie I had heard about.

A good 30 minutes in I realized both my error, and that the film was not what I had hoped for, a fluffy summertime coming-of-age story, and that it was instead a sort of dark, introspective coming-of-age story that just happened to be placed in a summer setting. At points during the movie I could actually viscerally feel my own awkward teenage summer loneliness flaring up in some deep, dark buried place in my gut. So the film makers nailed that part.

Duluth knows how to do snow removal, but where does it all go?

I was very impressed to happen upon this epic snow removal operation on Second Street on Thursday at about 11 a.m.

You might be able to see in the photo that this clean-up convoy of sorts includes numerous heavy construction vehicles stretching from where this was taken at about Second Avenue East, all the way back to Fourth Avenue West.

Mysterious “Headless Snowman” in Duluth’s Canal Park

I think that PDD needs to solve the mystery of the headless snowman, preferably in the form of a song, an epic poem, or maybe a short story in the style of O. Henry or Charles Dickens. Ok. Go.

Where in Duluth? “Thou Shalt Not Steal”

Where in Duluth?

Getting Lost in the Valley of Silence

Yesterday I had a rare 90-minutes to myself and after some meandering I ended up behind St. Scholastica looking for the sunset. I never really did find it, but I did see some other stuff.

RIP Mike, Mike and Tom Graffiti on Central Avenue, West Duluth

I’m not sure when this changed but I just noticed it today.

For decades, the names of two guys named Mike and a Tom were spraypainted unceremoniously on this wall, now that has been painted over.

I met the new owner of the Italian Village a month or so ago and he seems like a great guy. He also seems to be doing a lot to expand and spruce up the storefront. So today I was only a little surprised when the graffiti that was painted on the side of the building years decades ago had been covered up by what looks like will eventually be a new mural.

Here is a post by Paul Lundgren from a few years ago with some fun history and comments about the two Mikes and the Tom who had their names painted on the building. According to the comments, it has also been painted over before, so perhaps it’s not gone forever.

Rainbow over Park Point

From this afternoon.

Duluth Primary 2013 Final Arguments

In one of the most off, off, off election years of recent memory we can really focus our grey matter on pretty much hyper-local politics. In a year like this we get a little more mainstream media coverage of the smaller races, but even still, there are a few candidates who I haven’t met or really heard much about. I’d hate to base my decisions on who to vote for in the primary on who has the most yard signs out, or worse, how I feel about the people who have the yard signs in their yards. So, PDD …

"I Voted" photo, shamelessly cribbed from Tim Kaiser's FB Page

"I Voted" photo, shamelessly cribbed from Tim Kaiser's FB Page

So I am asking, who are you voting for this Primary Day and why?

In the interest of moderation and well-reasoned discussion maybe try to support your feelings and instincts with actual, you know, facts and evidence. Bonus points for spouting your own opinions and not those that have been fed to you by interest groups or ideologues. I haven’t voted yet, and I’ll be reading through the comments before I do, so here is your chance to sway my decision. Polls close at 8 pm. I live in the Duluth Hillside but you can talk about any Duluth-ish race, because, you never know, maybe you can sway someone else’s vote, too.

Skyline Art Gallery features local artists; showcases Duluth history

This weekend I visited the Skyline Art Gallery for its grand opening. This location, right near the crest of Thompson Hill is an area that I recognize as the spot where I feel like I am “home” and the awe-inspiring views of the great inland sea and the cities of Duluth and Superior open up before your eyes when approaching on I-35 from the south. I’m sure that many others have a similar sentiment, the owners of this gallery could be included in that group.

DNR moves to formalize changes to Threatened, Endangered and Special Concern lists

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is moving to formalize proposed changes to the list of endangered, threatened and concerned species which was last updated in 1996. A media release was sent out today:

Twenty-nine species, including the bald eagle, wolf and snapping turtle, were removed from the list; 180 species of plants and animals were added; 91 species had their status either upgraded or downgraded while remaining on the list. The changes were based on large amounts of new information gathered by DNR and other researchers.

The “bald eagle, wolf, and snapping turtle” reads like a “who’s who” list of beings that are considered sacred to local Native American people. Although I am not aware of any plans for a turtle (Mikinak) hunt the DNR did authorize a highly controversial eastern grey wolf (Maiingan) hunt in 2012. A bald eagle (Migizi) hunt seems unthinkable, but many people would have said the same about a wolf hunt 15 years ago.

Someone at the DNR also thought maybe that it would be a good idea to frame the discussion of endangered species from the perspective of European explorers in the 17th and 18th centuries, rather than focusing on the healthy hunting and land-use practices of the Dakota and Ojibwe people who managed the lands for centuries before the Europeans arrived. You can look it over here while I knock this chip off my shoulder. (Screen grab below)

Source: Updating MN list of endangered, threatened, special concern species

Cultural faux pas aside, I think that some of the most significant changes to the listings are the inclusion of moose, and a large number of fish, plants, and insects to the state’s protected lists. For example, after eyeballing the charts accompanying the release, listings for dragonflies, mosses, lichens and plant-life have increased maybe ten-fold or more since 1996. I’m no biologist by any means, but I think that there may be both good and bad news in this report for environmentalists, hunters, loggers, farmers, and miners. Not that a person couldn’t be more than one (or all) of those things concurrently. But the enormous increase in threatened/endangered/special concern species overall is somewhat alarming to me.

The entire list is here (it is an enormous pdf). A shorter summary is here

The Economics of Sulfide Mining: Benefits and Costs

This address was given by Dr. Tom Power, Professor Emeritus at the University of Montana about a week ago in Duluth.

Dr. Power’s lecture was presented by the Friends of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and in association with the Duluth Chamber of Commerce. The forum was moderated by Duke Skorich. I’d like to thank the Clyde Ironworks facilities staff for doing something that I think more facilities should do, they made the house PA system available for media to run a direct, clean line for recording purposes.

I’m going to be doing ongoing coverage of this issue in my role with WGZS-FM in Cloquet which is a radio Service of Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. I am interested in thoughtful reactions and comments related to this material. Resources and other sources of information and even rebuttals, etc would be helpful to me. As ever though, let’s keep the discussion cordial and productive.

Dr. Power references a number of slides during the presentation and I did also take video but I am low on broadband and time this summer so I don’t know when that video will ever be available publicly. However, you can download a version of the powerpoint here here (pdf)

“Communities of Color” leaders take issue with UMD’s lack of diversity

I have been working as a radio producer lately, and I increasingly find myself in situations where I need to try and be even-handed and to try to represent different perspectives on nuanced issues. Racial diversity is one of those things that keeps popping up for me.

The issues surrounding racism and inclusion are loaded with bad history, a lot of grey area, and many answers that seem to pull good people in opposing directions. Potentially worst of all, people just stay with the status quo, trapped by indecision.

So on Friday I was out trying to cover this hastily announced press conference at UMD. (I got the announcement in my Facebook inbox sometime around lunch, and the gathering was at 4 p.m.) From the start I could see that this was a good topic for PDD. I intended to edit this up and add some captions and titles on Friday and post it here to see what folks had to say.

Then I left my laptop power cord at work and with gas at $4-something a gallon I decided to just let it go and try to just relax and spend some time with family this weekend. That was the right call because I did enjoy myself and had a great time with my wife and kids. Also, I did not have a response from the university until today.

The response from UMD Chancellor Lendley Black is posted below the video.