March greetings! Here’s city-related news for residents of Ward 1 and beyond.
Conversion therapy ban: Several Minnesota cities have recently banned the practice of conversion therapy, a dangerous and discredited practice aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity based on the false claim that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that should be cured. At the request of nonprofit OutFront Minnesota, SLP council members have brought forward the idea of a ban in our own community. City staff, however, have suggested council instead pass a resolution that opposes the practice and encourages lawmakers to pass a statewide ban, joining 20 other states that have done so. Staff’s rationale is that enacting a ban is reactionary, performative, and limited in its effectiveness in actually stopping the practice compared to a comprehensive statewide ban. Others, including representatives from OutFront Minnesota, suggest a citywide ban is an important show of support for LGBTQ youth. Do you have thoughts on a resolution versus a ban? Please share them here.
Derek Chauvin trial prep: Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial in the death of SLP resident George Floyd is scheduled to start Monday in Minneapolis. Council met in closed session last month to hear about the St. Louis Park Police Department's preparations for safety which emphasizes people’s right to demonstrate along with protecting safety and property. Read the police chief’s statement here.
Residential picketing ordinance: Council is considering updating or repealing a residential picketing ordinance that has been on the books for decades. The ordinance prohibits protesting at a peoples’ homes to protect their safety, security, and privacy. At this point, I favor the ordinance as there are ample opportunities for people to exercise free speech in the public realm. We’ll discuss the ordinance at our meeting tomorrow, March 8, which you can watch here. I welcome your thoughts on this topic here.
Save big now on rooftop solar: Property owners in St. Louis Park can save big on rooftop solar system purchase and installation through a new city-sponsored program called Solar Sundown. Now through the end of the year, residential and business property owners can receive a 30% refund on their investment through tax credits funded by federal and city government. Our goal is to double the amount of rooftop solar in the city by the end of 2021. Find program information here and check out the informational workshops happening later this month in the events list below.
More sustainability news: St. Louis Park recently won the Intercity Home Energy Squad Challenge, a metro-wide competition to promote Home Energy Squad visits, by achieving both the highest number of total visits and the highest visit rate per capita. The competition may be over, but you can still get a Home Energy Squad visit. It's useful! Sign up here. Related: Did you know you can stay up to date on the City’s sustainability initiatives by signing up for the City’s Climate action newsletter?
Wayfinding survey: Please take a few moments to participate in a survey that will help determine future wayfinding needs for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users in SLP. The city’s wayfinding project, a collaboration with students from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, will explore both traditional and innovative wayfinding methods through the lens of race, equity and inclusion to meet the city’s infrastructural and cultural context. Take the survey here or call (952) 928-1436 for a mailed paper copy. The survey is open through March 31.
Local business support: Two recent council/staff actions support local businesses during and beyond pandemic times. The first council action allows outdoor seating in areas where it was previously prohibited – those zoned General Industrial which includes the areas where Damfpwerk Distillery and Copperwing Distillery are located. Customers can now sit outdoors and enjoy music at these establishments even after pandemic restrictions are limited. The second staff action provides businesses and nonprofits with up to $2,500 reimbursement for purchase or rent of temporary tents, canopies, tables, chairs, bollards and other items for use while pandemic restrictions are in place, including those purchased or rented after Nov. 1, 2020. Find information on the reimbursement program here.
Human Rights Award: The City’s Human Rights Award recognizes individuals, groups, organizations or businesses that have made an outstanding contribution toward uplifting human rights, justice, equity and inclusion in the community. The award also seeks out those who have fostered increased understanding and cooperation between people of different backgrounds in St. Louis Park. Nominations for work done in 2020 are being accepted through March 15. Info here.
Reflections on the pandemic: As we enter a second year of pandemic life, I’m reflecting on the many losses that have been experienced since March 2020, including learning time, the celebration of milestones, time with others, and the death of loved ones. I recently experienced the tragic loss of a dear friend and neighbor; others I know have lost parents and spouses to the virus or its ancillary effects, including mental health crises resulting from prolonged isolation. As we emerge from the fog – and eventually we will – remember that many people have been changed forever by the pandemic and that as a caring community, we can ease each other’s burdens, even people we don’t know, through patience, compassion, and everyday kindnesses.
Here’s a select list of upcoming events:
Hunt for history: The City’s Parks & Rec staff is partnering with the St. Louis Park Historical Society to help residents learn a bit of local history while exploring our city’s parks. Each week in March a clue will be shared via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and GovDelivery to help locate a historic lock placed in a park. Info here.
Seeds Feeds annual plant sale & fundraiser: Pre-sale now underway for this local nonprofit (formerly SLP Seeds). Info here.
Online solar energy workshops: March 23, 6:30-8 pm and March 24, 11am-1 pm. Learn the basics of solar energy, how to determine if a rooftop solar array is right for your home or building, and what financial incentives are available for installation, including the new Solar Sundown Program. Offered in partnership with Metro Clean Energy Resource Group. Info and to register here.
Thanks for reading, be well, and stay in touch.
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