David Syring Posts

Last Day to Vote for a Winner!

Today is the last day to vote for the UMD community orchard in the Edy’s Fruit Bar’s contest described in this post. We are in the top 5 in the nation and on course to win a 50-tree planting paid for by Edy’s. The fruit from these trees will become a community asset and distributed free to appropriate venues. The orchard is part of the UMD Sustainable Agriculture Project, which serves as an education venue and civic resource.

Here’s the link to register and to vote for our project. I’ve been voting all month and haven’t gotten any spam from the company.

How often do you get a chance to vote for a good thing that you know is going to win? Today’s your last chance!

What America Needs: Minneapolis Film Maker at UMD

Tuesday, Feb. 15, 7 p.m.

UMD’s Bohannon Hall 90

Free admission

Minneapolis videographer Mark Wojahn will be presenting his film, What America Needs, and discussing his work following the film.
From the film web-site:

Travelling by train from N.Y.C to L.A, a documentary videographer asks more than 500 people from dozens of different communities:

“What do you think America needs?”

Collectively, their answers relate an unexpected story of hope.

What America Needs invites you to share your thoughts and feelings on our country by participating in our dialogue.

My Experience with 300-foot Rule & House for Rent

With all this discussion of rental ordinances, I thought I’d offer my experience with the 300-foot rule. We were denied a rental license when we first applied, due to the 300-foot rule, but were granted a license upon appeal due to economic hardship. The appeals board seemed thoughtful and open-minded, and had clear criteria outlined for when they should grant a variance. While the 300-foot rule has been a difficulty for some, I observed 6 appeals the day I testified, and 5/6 were granted for what seemed to me to be good financial hardship cause. The 6th was denied for what appeared to be valid cause, too. Perhaps the rule is imperfect, but even though it did cost me some money and time and effort, I do believe our local government is being receptive to community needs. I’m glad the council and the mayor’s office is considering new rules to supplant the rule.

So, now that I have had the city inspection of the house, I am ready to offer it for rent. So, the house I have for rent: nice 3-bedroom, 1.5 bath house for rent not far from UMD/Scholastica–close to Chester Creek Park, great neighbors, walking distance to cafe/bookstore, two buslines close by–really an ideal location for the best of Duluth urban life. Off-street parking. Great deck. Hot water radiant heat, newer fuel oil furnace, new hot water heater. Looking to rent to a family, if possible. $900 month plus you pay utilities. If interested e-mail me for more details: [email protected]

What part of a district should an elected official live in?

I’ve seen several references to Cravaack living in an outer ring suburb, and the implication that this is inappropriate. It appears he lives in Chisago City, which, while perhaps being a Cities outer ring suburb, still falls into the 8th Congressional district. If, indeed, this is in the district, then what’s the point, really, of implying he is inappropriate to be the district’s rep?

I suppose it’s been conventional that the rep comes from Duluth or the Range but from the geographic perspective, any resident of a district should be eligible to be elected as long as they meet other legal requirements, no?

To imply that someone who lives on the outer edges of a legally defined district should not be its elected rep seems specious to me. That’d be like saying a person who comes from Maine or Washington State or some such location distant from the geographic or population centers of our country should not be able to be elected president.

This is why it is important to pay attention to who gets to draw the legislative districts–there is real power in being able to carve up districts to benefit your party, especially given the information that is available via databases about demographics, voting patterns, income, etc.

I’m not a partisan of Cravaack and did not vote for him, so I am neither defending nor attacking him–just wonder if the PDD community has any thoughts on the idea that a representative should come from a particular part of district to represent it.

Local poet Connie Wanek in New York Times book review

Local poet Connie Wanek’s most recent collection, On Speaking Terms is reviewed in today’s “Poetry Chronicle,” in the New York Times book review.

The end of the review says, “Nobody will call Wanek overly difficult. The most attentive readers will call her wise.”

Here’s to local wisdom without pretensions saying poetry needs to be difficult to be meaningful. I look forward to reading the new collection — you should too!

Local Food–What is it? What’s it Worth?

The Anthropology Senior Seminar course I am teaching at UMD is focusing on local food and sustainability. A few weeks ago we had a class meal prepared by students with local ingredients. We had a lively debate about what qualifies as local and why it is important to eat locally.

Definitions of local vary–Whole Foods Co-op uses 300-miles as a benchmark. Some of the Twin Cities coops allow anything that comes from a five state area (Minnesota and the states that touch it) to count as local. Other local grocery stores are using the term, too, though I’m not sure what criteria they are using. Other definitions are more restrictive.

What about a PDD definition? What counts as local food?

Local food usually means small to mid-scale production, requiring more human labor, but less fossil fuel–that means more jobs, but also potentially higher costs. How willing are you to spend a little extra money for locally produced foods? How much extra?

I’m going to have more questions about these topics as I’m currently involved in several research projects along these lines, but that’s enough for now.

Shorter Days for All of Us?

Maybe this isn’t really a local enough topic for PDD, but given the earlier post on whether we’re vulnerable here to earthquakes, a Yahoo news story today seems interesting and relevant. The Chile quake apparently may have shifted earth’s axis, and made earth days slightly shorter. And this has happened before with big quakes, too.

Reminds me, too, of a Harper’s article from 2000 about dam building. There’s a quotation in that article that says: “The planet accommodates 40,000 large dams–dams more than four stories high–and some 800,000 small ones. They have shifted so much weight that geophysicists believe they have slightly altered the speed of the earth’s rotation, the tilt of its axis, and the shape of its gravitational field. Together they blot out a terrain bigger than California.”

So, any thoughts–think we’re headed towards shorter Perfect Duluth Days due to earthquakes and dam building?

That Didn’t Take Long

Referring back to an earlier PDD post on Supreme Court decision related to “Corporate Free Speech.”

So, they say they’re doing it ironically, but a liberal PR corporation is now running for Congress. Here’s a NY Times brief news, and funny-scary first campaign video. How long before a corporation actually does run for Congress? Any Duluth bookies making odds on that?

Thanks, mevdev, for sending me this one.

Two Buck Chuck and the Real Price of Cheap

So, I tried several times to comment in the “restaurants” discussion thread in response to people talking about Trader Joe’s, cheap wine and such, and my comment didn’t go through for some reason.  Guess it was the “anti-threadjack” filter PDD has now! (Wouldn’t that be nice!)

My thoughts were these:

A 17-year old woman died from heat exhaustion about a year ago while working in a vineyard that supplies grapes for 2-buck-chuck. Trader Joe’s dodged the responsibility by saying it was a “contractors” problem. That seems slippery ethics to me.

Here’s Food First’s Action Alert on this.

And another blog article.

The United Farm Workers is suing the state of California (partially prompted by this case), to get the state to protect workers from hazardous field conditions.

The reality seems to be that if you get to buy it cheap, someone (workers) or something (the environment) is getting exploited.

So, my question, do we and/or should we think about these kinds of things when we’re looking for a buzz to accompany our dinner?

Need Advice–Cleanest Fuel Oil Company

Anyone have experience with fuel oil companies in the Twin Ports? We’ve been using a company for the last several years, and when we had our chimney cleaned recently, the guy who did the cleaning pointed out there was a huge build-up of sulfuric acid in the pipe and even inside the furnace. He attributed this to the quality of the fuel oil we have been getting from the company we have been using (a company he says he has heard/noticed other such problems with).

So, my question–anyone have advice on a local company that delivers as clean a fuel oil product as possible?


Hunting a Grouse with a House: Local Food Stories

What’s the most interesting story you can tell about eating “something local”?

I might be the only person you’ve ever heard of who actually hunted a grouse with a house. About seven years ago I lived on Morris Thomas Road. One day my daughter (then 7) and I were sitting and reading a book together when we heard a tremendous bang against the large plate glass window on the front of the house. When we looked outside we found a grouse dead on the lawn. My daughter, ever responsible and serious at the time, said we shouldn’t let the animal go to waste.

I’ve never been a hunter, so I called the DNR and asked the very nice man who answered the phone if there was any reason (legal or health-related) that I couldn’t eat that bird, and he proceeded not only to reassure me it was alright, but also to carefully explain how to skin the bird and prepare it. We ate it for dinner and my daughter and wife both declared it was the best winged creature they’d ever eaten.

What’s the oddest local food story (either acquiring, preparing or any other) you have?

Trampled By Turtles, Bended Oak, Tangier 57 Play for the Lake

Local bands Trampled By Turtles, Bended Oak and Tangier 57 will play at the Rex on Friday, March 13 in a “Benefit for the Lake.” Proceeds from the concert will support Duluth’s McCabe Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America in its effort to protect Lake Superior from invasive species.


The Rex Bar, Early Bird Drink Specials 8-10 p.m.

Donation: $8 Before 9 p.m., $10 after

Tangier 57: 8 p.m.

Bended Oak: 10 p.m.

Trampled By Turtles: Midnight

Duluth’s Izaak Walton League is taking on the federal government (National Coast Guard and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) to prompt federal protection of our shared resource (visit www.duluthikes.org for more information about this effort). Minnesota and Wisconsin, have already begun taking steps to clean up ballast water, but varying regulations from state to state are likely to create headaches and confusion among the shipping industry. The current effort calls for a unified solution for this national problem. Come listen to some good music and help protect our Lake.

Cliff Dwellers Spin/Fact Check

As an Alien Anthropologist I think it’s worth pointing out that the original “cliffdwellers” were actually really advanced, built really amazing houses, and had some fairly sophisticated technologies and social structures. The term “cliffdwellers” doesn’t really work as an insult–it’s like saying “you advanced people who know how to build really cool houses, make great pots and baskets, feed yourselves using your own knowledge, and know how to keep mice outta the corn bin.”

Here’s some info:

Need a Polka Band @ Reasonable Price

A friend of mine has reserved the community shelter on Park Point for early Aug. for a family reunion. He’s got a lot of older rural Minnesota relatives who have fond memories of spending their honeymoons in Duluth (yes, this is what Garrison Keilor did a skit about a few years ago–going to Duluth becoming a codeword for doing the goatdance).

Anyway–this friend would like to help his entire family to have a great time by hiring a polka band (or at least a polka accordianist) to play for the gathering. He’s not employed locally, so doesn’t have a lot of money to spend.

Anybody got tips on a likely band or individual who could play two hours of good polka tunes to tug at some nostalgic heart strings?


Wow, let’s me edit after posting!

Looks different–I’m sure there’s all kinds of new functionality here. Looking forward to more of the same madness and even some new kinds. Thanks for all the energy you’re putting into new kinds of community. This forum is one of the things I look enjoy repeatedly checking in with on an almost daily basis.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!