Potholes

We are working on a project for our journalism class about the potholes in Duluth. We need your help! If anyone has filed a complaint to the city regarding potholes please respond! We would really appreciate it! If anyone has any strong opinions on the issue as well, please feel free to contact us. You would be of great help!

The project is due next Thursday.

Thank you!

38 Comments

Friendly Old Knifey

about 14 years ago

Okay, I'm finally going to say this:
These damn UMD students' cries for help are really starting to bug the crap out of me.
We get it. Your professor probably told you that PDD is an excellent resource to help identify community concerns and newsworthy stories; however, that doesn't mean that any time you need to write an article you should come to PDD with the same form letter request.
/Rant

newman

about 14 years ago

I agree, Knifey.

Mcslappy

about 14 years ago

Like whatever, UMD students are like so resourceful. Or whatever. 

Makeup and stickers and ponies and myspace.com!!

dbrewing

about 14 years ago

yes, the college kids are the problem......

Mary

about 14 years ago

There do seem to be a lot of them lately...lots of end-of-the-semester assignments or something?

davids

about 14 years ago

Yeah, maybe they're posting here a bit frequently, but I'd point out that one of these numerous posts from students requesting help sparked a 66-comment conversation among some of the dedicated folks on this blog about the naming of neighborhoods, schools, etc. that enabled newcomers and old-timers to hear from one another about how we perceive our community. (http://www.perfectduluthday.com/2010/04/06/lincoln-park-help/#comments)

So, perhaps it's a habit now for students trolling for story ideas, but if the people on PDD take these request as a stimulus for some serious/playful conversation on a topic, then this opens new community stories.  If these Interwebs are ever gonna amount to much from a culturally adaptive evolutionary stance, we need more voices, not fewer, and we need to use every excuse possible for exploring who we are as a community (virtual and otherwise).

(Yeah, okay, I'm a professor, but not one who works with these journalism students).

edgeways

about 14 years ago

I certainly understand what you are saying davids, but this marks 4 in (basically) a week, and the second dip for at least two of them.

While I think an occasional plea for help is warranted and not intrusive, I also think this should not be the lazy place for students to plumb for ideas without contributing to the pdd community-at-large. As implied, I, personally, would have a lot less objection if the people asking these question contributed in other ways to the site. Rather than seeing it as resource to exploit, it should be a resource to contribute to and receive help from, that is what community is about right? It isn't a one way street. We may well need more voices, but if so, we need those voices attached to a person not blind letters of appeal for help.

The strength, and weakness, of pdd is that the scope of it's purpose is so ill defined, and so there is a wide range of things that pop up, when too much of one thing surfaces people tend to get cranky about it.

Derek Montgomery

about 14 years ago

when I was working at the News Tribune, we did a story on the condition of Duluth's streets and one of the subjects was a large pothole on a street that had collapsed and spread itself into a sewer drain and became a rather large hole.  Still, the city did nothing to fix it despite a number of complaints.

I was sent there to take a photo of it and do something to illustrate how big the hole was.  At first everyone thought it wasn't that big so I was told to put a toaster in the hole to give the size some context, but this thing ended up being gigantic.  I remember being on the phone telling my photo editor that you'd almost have to put a kid in the hole to illustrate how big it was.  At that point, a rush of excitement came over me and I told him I was off to find a kid.  As if fate was on my side, just as I was running off to a nearby park, a toddler dressed in Builder Bob apparel rounded the corner with his parents.  It was destiny and I told myself "YES WE CAN."

I explained to the parents the background of the story and they said they lived a block away and were one of the people who had called the city about that hole.  Then I told them this might be the strangest question of the day they would encounter and asked them if they wouldn't mind putting their 2-year old in the hole because it would provide great context about how deep the hole was.  They agreed and five minutes later the photo was done.  Here it is...

http://bit.ly/d98uXc

Our editors were hesitant to run it at first, but it ended up running on the front of the newspaper.  It was an odd week with little kids at the DNT because I think earlier in the week we received a ton of letters to the editor after someone submitted a photo for Grandma's Brag Book of a baby in a pot with vegetables on top of a stove.  People insinuated that someone would see that photo and get the idea to do something similar like cook their kid.  

Anyway, I saw you guys asking for pothole stories or stories of complaints and this one came immediately to mind.  The story has a happy ending though... about two weeks later I drove past that spot to see if the city had done anything about it and sure enough the hole was repaired.

Derek Montgomery

about 14 years ago

The photo was labeled a photo illustration in the newspaper because that's pretty much what it was.  A photo that was setup to illustrate a point.  Just in case anybody was wondering...

Hillsider Newspaper editor

about 14 years ago

Thanks for the story and photo Derek. I remember that pothole too!

Also, thanks for pointing out that that was a "photo illustration". Lots of people don't know the difference or understand the distinction. Of course your story did explain that all along.

Claire

about 14 years ago

I remember that photo, Derek! It was pretty iconic. . .

Derek Montgomery

about 14 years ago

Thanks guys.  We did get some letters I think in regards to that photo saying it was completely unsafe.  What you don't see because of the crop was the parents on each side of the kid and I had them there at my request simply because, well, it was a 2-year old in a hole.  I think in my time there it was one of my favorite photos just because I love odd/quirky photos.

And Hillsider, I added that last point for precisely the reason you mentioned because many people don't really look at how a photo is labeled.

Friendly Old Knifey

about 14 years ago

You are very rude, apparently with a lot of time on your hands if you had to comment back at all.

This was an e-mail sent to me by the poster. Come on, really? Perhaps my response was a bit rude, but these requests are quite annoying. It's not like I'm trolling, here.

Is it rude to post this here in response? I don't know for sure, but I'm tired of not saying anything about things that bug me.

mac

about 14 years ago

I don't see anyone forcing you to read these Old Knifey.

adam

about 14 years ago

dehnc007: commenting is the point. Just because you're not getting the type of responses you had hoped for doesn't mean they are invalid.

wetclimber

about 14 years ago

There is a road full of twists and holes near Park Hill Cemetery. Bring a truck. 

Who takes pride in pot holes?

Jude

about 14 years ago

I am smiling as I read this thread.  As a semi-retired college professor I can tell you that students are smart when it comes to cutting corners on assignments and their posts to PDD prove that vividly.  

They also think they are smart when it comes to explaining why their assignment was late....er, well, somebody named Friendly Old Knifey shut down my research, and even made rude comments (by now the student can tell I am not buying the story...) So they continue.....and then my computer broke down and my roommate had company so I couldn't come out of my room to go the library. GEEZ you are strict, no late assignments?  My OTHER teachers ALWAYS let me turn things in late....  You can email those people on PDD, they will tell you it was not my fault.  Really.  

Thank you Friendly Old Knifey, you set a good boundary.  

And Derek, I loved your story.  That ought to be enough research right there, and even includes a proper citation and a credible reporter.....Of course that means clicking on your link.  

Eric Ludy

about 14 years ago

Jude, I completely understand your attitude and agree that cutting corners is a chronic habit among students (and working adults too, I might add), but I don't think that applies in this case. Dehnc007 is in a journalism class, not a literature review or a biology class. As a student of journalism, her assignment is to draw upon the opinions and experiences of people in her community. Journalists have traditionally done this by going to places where people gather: coffee shops, group meetings, parks, etc. In 2010, we have online communities like PDD as well. These aren't a replacement to hitting the pavement to be sure, but they are welcome addition to the often limited resources journalists have to draw upon.

I point this out because what we're really discussing here is what it means to be a journalist in the Internet Age. We're all well aware of the struggles of the print media, but at the same time, reporters today have the ability to tell more compelling stories than they ever have before -- stories that draw upon the experiences of actual members of the community rather than a city official or a pundit with an agenda.  When I see these student posts on PDD, I don't see any "cutting corners" or a "lazy place for students to plumb ideas," I just see young reporters reaching out to real people to tell real stories.

adam

about 14 years ago

Journalism in the Internet Age, to be sure. Just make sure to cover John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory.

TimK

about 14 years ago

Apparently, the Tea Party folks don't realize that Gabriel's Internet Theory involves the actual internet. http://teapartyjesus.tumblr.com/

edgeways

about 14 years ago

Friendly Old Knifey: Yeah I got an "polite" email as well from the OP. 

Eric Ludy: Sure they are trying to replace going into coffee shops, or whatever it means to be an "internet reporter", but, a few different things happened here. It wasn't one person coming asking for ideas, it was four, and I don't care where I am, if four different reporters come to where I am within a week my response isn't gong to be flowers and friendly down-home homilies. In addition when you solicit something you generally try to make some sort of connection with your audience, none of that happened here, zip zero zilch. It has all been, "Hey, you bunch of strangers I need help on my class project."  And when some ambivalence is expressed we get drama laden personal emails about how mean we are. I honestly didn't see any reaching out, I saw people wanting to exploit an easy resource so they didn't have to go to the coffee shops, or wherever. Just because it is the "internet age" doesn't absolve reporters of making real personal contact.

Jude

about 14 years ago

Well said, edgeways.....

Eric: the Internet is an educational tool...and just that. So many students try to substitute a machine for the real thing, as in actually making appointments, getting there on time, remembering someone's name, taking notes, critically thinking about what the primary person they interviewed said (not secondary, tertiary or hearsay information copied from an Internet source where people do not even have to use their given name), and then making sense of that information to present an assignment that will satisfy the requirements of a college course.  Copy and paste, although EASY and FAST is not, in my opinion, teaching anything except how to technically manipulate a computer. 

And please don't diminish journalism by seeming to say it is not as important as doing a "literature review or biology class"....keep in mind that a lit review can be changed and a biology experiment can be run again...probably nobody would be the wiser.  What we write, whether here or in our personal emails or a journalism assignment, has the capacity to educate or discriminate or bring down powerful people. 

PDD goes out to the world.  So I think being a journalist is a serious job, and apparently so do others here who are demanding that journalism assignments (on PDD or otherwise) be a rigorous part of college education.

Eric Ludy

about 14 years ago

Jude: I think we've misunderstood each other. I would never suggest using a community blog as a primary resource, and that's not what these students are doing, either. They're using it as a place to facilitate discussion of community issues (potholes, bike accessibility, etc.) and to, perhaps, connect with a primary source in the process -- or at least get a clearer direction to move forward. As an example of what I'm talking about, look at this post by jawa0068 from last week. The student's question about Duluth's bike accessibility inspired 10 comments from bikers throughout the community, one of which (by adam) told the author of an upcoming series of community meetings on the topic. I'm certain that the student didn't copy and paste any of these comments, but perhaps plans to go to one of those meetings, or maybe was inspired to call a city planner in Chicago based upon Claire's observation that that city has a lot of bike lanes.

In other words, the student fleshed out a topic by seeking the opinions of people in an active online community. Edgeways, you view this as exploitative. I see it as a compliment on PDD as a gathering place for well-informed, intelligent individuals -- an example of what the Internet at large could be if it wasn't so full of Gabriel's Internet Theory types. I also agree with you, edgeways, that this relationship needs to be more reciprocal. I suggest bookmarking  the Lake Voice News on your browser and checking it from time to time. You might find that these posts are more than just random annoyances, but a means to lead students to generate stories that incorporate a wide variety of voices rather than the usual stand-by sources that journalists so often rely upon.

Jude

about 14 years ago

Eric:  It is much easier to be misunderstood on the Internet than it is in a face-to-face conversation, my point exactly.  

I have not seen any professionalism in the way the students have been asking for information.  PDD is not Facebook and if you are asking for things from a professional standpoint, be it as a student representing a college or from your business, then the standards need to meet the scrutiny of the professional audience or people are going to object, and rightly so. 

It's one thing if I ask for information on where to bring a couch to recycling or if I want information on a restaurant, and quite another if I represent my college journalism class where my goal is to do an assignment, the results of which may end up in a paper that is read to a class, published, or passed on to the dean.  None of those parameters were outlined by the students.  Therein lies the glitch, as I see it.   

Perhaps a better way would be for the instructor to first send a polite and professional note to PDD identifying the assignment, outlining what students will be asking, the timeline, what the information will be used for, and when the results of the research will be published on PDD.  That would have made it all much more fun. 

This has been a great start at sharing information and expectations from both sides of the issue.

mevdev

about 14 years ago

I can't remember the lady's name, but there is one person in charge of directing the crews. I emailed her earlier in the spring and within 2 weeks my street was filled. I will say, last summer it there were a couple potholes that were 2 feet wide and at least 6 inches deep. It took me a long time to find the person that could direct the crews (whose name, eludes me).


Oh and they suck at tamping the stuff in. I think that somewhat contributes to whole streets that are mostly just patch material. Does anyone remember 15th Ave E? My dad would joke that everyone on the street just threw out a bucketload of patch material.

mevdev

about 14 years ago

The weather in Minnesota really wreaks havoc on roads. I think Duluth should just phase out 1/3 of the roads in the central hillside. Fill them and let grass grow. We could have pervious pavement to locals' garages, but no one else. It could be every other avenue a few blocks at a time. We just have more roads than we can effectively care for.

Hillsider Newspaper editor

about 14 years ago

I really don't think it is the weather. I have lived in other northern cities with weather just as cold as Duluth's and those city's don't have this problem.  It is quality of the roads in the first place and maintenance and replacement, which boils down to the will to dedicate the money to it.

TimK

about 14 years ago

I talked an engineer in Sweden who said that when new roads- particularly highways, were built, they used reinforced concrete down below the frost line. We're talking 16 feet deep! It costs about 15 times what we spend, but their maintenance was next to zero.

Jude

about 14 years ago

Mevdev said:
"Oh and they suck at tamping the stuff in. I think that somewhat contributes to whole streets that are mostly just patch material."

I agree wholeheartedly with you on that!!  The same hole should not have to be filled every few months...there has got to be a better way.  The roads in North Dakota, where I travel a lot, and where they deal with harsher winters, floods, etc. and yet their streets are bliss to drive on...Even in Cuba, if you can believe it, the streets are generally better than Duluth.

Hillsider Newspaper editor

about 14 years ago

Thank you Jude, 
Yes, I was thinking about the Dakotas and the weather IS harsher. The weather is colder, hotter and floods are frequent. 

Also we had a driveway in which my father mixed and poured the cement and 30 years later that driveway was still holding up as if it were new.  

One time while traveling in Mexico I assumed a part of the city was old because the cement sidewalks were falling about. No, it was not old the quality of the cement was bad.

Terry G.

about 14 years ago

How about the UMD clean up some of your garbage laying in and around campus? We'll worry about the potholes if you all can pick up after yourselves.

Grrrrr

chadp

about 14 years ago

Two big differences between Duluth and Minneapolis are the Lake and the Hill.  The hill increases the velocity of the runoff water causing small holes to become big holes and sometime washing out the gravel below and causing sinkholes.  The lake effect probably causes more freezing and thawing than even colder climates. The resulting expansion/contraction of the surface material probably induces more cracking (just a guess).

girlfromnorthcountry

about 14 years ago

I lived in Colorado for many years, and I feel that the problem with our roads here, is that there is no curbing and guttering.  In the mountains, there is a lot of snowfall and runoff in the springtime, as there is here, but they make a place for the water to run.  In Duluth I see it sheeting across the streets, into the poorly-patched potholes of years' past, where it's driven over until it's a pothole large enough to lose a child in.  It really frustrates me.  Duluth's roads are horrible.

dehnc007

about 14 years ago

I am sorry to whom ever took my post offensively. It was not meant to cause an argument between the community, and I am sorry for the responses.
Thank you to everyone who responded with suggestions.

wildgoose

about 14 years ago

dehnc007, DavidS and others ...

1st, journalism is vital to cemocracy and skilled, experienced journalists are vital to a HEALTHY democracy.  So anything I can do to support students learning about the field, I'll do it.  Not always with a smile on my face, but I'll do it if you remind me why it is important.  

I think it is ok to post questions that you need help with on here, but I have learned that not all posts "work."  PDDers can be very fickle, too.  I think Friendly Old Knifey has a great point which (for me) is that UMD students seem to be returing to the same old watering hole a few too many times.  And it is starting to appear a little lazy.  Whomever was the first to post on here it seemed like a great idea, others caught on to a great idea, but later posts have appeared to look a little, well, uninspired or maybe even procrastination level desperate as the retired college prof notes.  

The emails to responders telling them to essentially keep their opinions to themselves and stay out of it, are problematic because the media works both ways, it needs to.  If you want to get something out there then do it, but be open to the thoughful, considered feedback, even if it is negative.  I learned that lesson myself when I got some comments (here on PDD) that I really didn't like, so I know where you may be coming from. It's affected what and how I post because if I don't want to hear people complain about it or attack my ideas, I try not to put them out there anymore.  But if I do ... well, I do.  

Next, using PDD for these assignments reminds me of the phrase "Thinking Outside the Box."  Originally it alluded to an experiential ed activity where you have to literally "think outside the box" to make it a success and that requires a big cognitive shift. Few people could do it successfully without thinking very creatively and moving into abstract or creative thought, and when the answer was "revealed" creaky old doors opened up in people's minds.    But now ... the phrase itself is about as "inside the box" as you can imagine. People use it as a lazy way of saying "Be more creative."  And there is my lazy way of saying that I don't mind the student questions on here, and I have really enjoyed some, but it is getting a little played out from an actual educational efficacy aspect.  Try going back to the coffee shops or doing some more old fashioned, real world, M.O.S. gumshoe reporting, along with the new media interweb stuff that many of you are clearly able to do very well.  I want to see both talents in the news of the future.  

Finally there was a huge pothole behind my house on Cascade Street that was not quite Child Sized (great job, btw, Derek) but it could have easily swallowed an lap dog, and maybe a litter of puppies. It was big, and dangerous.  But it was marked by an orange caution sawhorse within a day of appearing and patched within a week.  So much for complaining about stuff never gettign done in the hillside. I was pleased with the city's response and I don't even know if anyone complained it could have been the police or parks & rec that called it in.  They all travel that road regularly.    Meanwhile out by my mom's house in Lester Park, there are whole streets Glenwood, for one, that are not quite passable.  Reminds me if China in the Deng Xiopeng era, when I was there. You can't beleive people get anything done with roads like that, but they do.

wildgoose

about 14 years ago

Oh ... and since this is about journalism, I'm just gonna preemptively offer a "mea culpa" on the many typos and punctuation errors in my post.  I should have proof read it first (not before submitting it).  As a student myself I was taught that these kind of errors can sour the audience to our message and even 10 years ago I never would have sent something out without proofing it 2 or 3 times first.  Nowadays?  Almost never.  Terrible slippery habit I've acquired over the years ...

Friendly Old Knifey

about 14 years ago

Thanks wildgoose, who apparently lives in the same building in which I used to live. I believe it is actually my apartment that is up for rent right now. I highly encourage people to rent it; It is very nice.

Jude

about 14 years ago

To dehnc007:  I do appreciate your post, that is certainly a professional way to address a conflict. Nice job.

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