Sunday, August 30, 2015

"Kutzky Market Live!"

for A.H.

Conversation is a profound act of humanity. So once were markets.
- The Cluetrain Manifesto

LIVE from Kutzky Market! 

Thursday, August 27, 2015
KUTZKY MARKET - Kutzky Market opened (softly) for business today - serving coffee until 5pm. To mark the occasion I thought the resident blogger should take up residence. So I have. 
I first heard of this place several months ago. A few months after that I was offered this gig. The offer was unexpected.... 
Three hours later, I get back to this blog. What happened? Conversations. That's what happened.
And that's as far as I got.

Due to circumstances 

For thousands of years, we knew exactly what markets were: conversations between people who sought others who shared the same interests. 
The Cluetrain Manifesto
Thought on the day Kutzky Market opened the resident blogger would take up residence and blog on site. Bit of a thing to be sure. A contrivance. OK, a gimmick. But there it is. Went to the Market to market...

Ordered a coffee from one of Ann's crew-in-training. Another crew member set about making it, stopping short of her first whipped creaming - Ann stepped in for that.

Considered taking a seat at one of the tables in the coffee shop - tables topped with historical drawings of buildings lost over the years to Mayo Clinic construction.

Opted instead for a nice penny topped table near an outlet over in the Forager pit - apropos since English coffee houses were once called "penny universities".

Set up the machine. Took some photos. Loaded them to the cloud. Pulled one down. Inserted the image. Started to write.

Then it happened. The same thing that has been happening in markets for thousands of years and for hundreds of years in coffee houses. Conversations.

In this case, conversations about the city.

About affordable housing. About plans for affordable housing. About probably needing multiple and alternative plans for affordable housing.

About people concerned about the shadows cast by growth.

About aging in place.

About that building a hockey arena in Mayo Park thing.

About entrepreneurs. About C4. About Tedx. About the places from which change is really coming.

About Kutzky Market.

As I was saying

These were the kinds of conversations people have been having since they started to talk. Social. Based on intersecting interests. Open to many resolutions. Essentially unpredictable. Spoken from the center of the self. 
- The Cluetrain Manifesto
Everything about Kutzky Market (and Forager Brewery) is "spoken from the center of the self". There is a vision here to be sure, but do not miss the voices that are speaking because what you see is what they are saying. Even as I am having conversations about the city at the penny topped table, there is a conversation going on all around me that speaks to the city from the parking lot on the west side to the garden on the east side.

As I started to say above before I was pleasantly interrupted, the offer to become the Market's resident blogger was unexpected. Invited to blog, not about Kutzky Market - there is a blog for that - but about anything I wanted. The offer took my breathe away. When it returned, I said yes.

A few weeks later, the first posting appeared. Though it went unnamed, that first posting was about Kutzky Market and especially about those people who were bringing it.

I wrote that not only is the market a human enterprise, it is "fully, thoroughly human." Offering the observation "that in this human enterprise the difference between business-as-usual and entrepreneurial innovation is a joy that knows nor needs no other reason."

A there from here

The authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto remind us there was a time when markets were places where buyers and sellers spoke to each other "without the filter of media, the artifice of positioning statements, the arrogance of advertising, or the shading of public relations."

"Market leaders," they write, "were men and women whose hands were worn by the work they did....."

There are still markets like these. They are local. Always local. Always. Only local markets can sustain without contrivance the authenticity. Only local markets can be local. The franchise, the chain, the consultant bring with them goods and services, but they offer transactions that serve interests residing elsewhere.

Local markets are destinations to be sure. People go to market. But unlike the marketplace that aspires to be a destination for others from elsewhere, the local market shares only in the destiny of its place for that's where its own destiny resides.

The local market is a there that is from here.

Kutzky Market - go there, it's from here.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Deeds/word: "the speed of trust"

 "Change comes at the speed of trust."

We know our strength comes from the people who are here. We are a community of diverse backgrounds and diverse needs. We have learned that the more we serve the needs of people, the more economic success will follow. - Patrick Seeb

Terms of art 

Last week the Twin Cities PR firm that handles DMC media relations issued a press release announcing the hiring of Patrick Seeb as the EDA's "Director of Economic Development and Placemaking".  "Placemaking" is a term of art that has been around for a while. It's inclusion in Seeb's job title may be a hopeful sign or maybe not. We'll have to wait and see. But, Seeb knows that already which may also be a hopeful sign - or not.

It took over a year and around $13,000 for the EDA to remove "interim" from Lisa Clarke's job title last spring and start calling her Executive Director. So, even though Seeb is not the first EDA hire, he feels like it.

The PR firm assures us that DMCC and EDA leadership are thrilled by their decision to hire Seeb: "stellar leadership experience" (attributed to Bolton) "proven record of partnership and collaboration" (attributed to Smith). All in all a good fit, says the executive director, and doesn't it just go to show what a great place we are that'd he come work for us. So, all the right words. Said by the people you'd expect to say them. Everything you'd want in an announcement of a new hire.

And Seeb? Well, he is, of course, "excited". But, apart from being excited - and "being excited" about D-M-C is de rigueur - what else has Seeb said? As it turns out, he's said some interesting things.

Terms of Service

A former top deputy to Mayor Norm Coleman, Patrick Seeb has served as executive director of the St. Paul Riverfront Corporation since March 1995. In May of this year, writing on the eve of the 21st Annual Great River Gathering in St. Paul, Seeb reflected on those 20 years at the Riverfront Corporation.

"The work this community has done and the systems we have put in place," he wrote, "ensure that our city is a place that honors the past, looks confidently toward the future, invites all to engage and always supports its increasingly diverse population."

Seeb called out "successes in historic preservation, the arts, riverfront renewal, transportation and community diversity."
With the support of many people and organizations, public art has become a priority. We have poems etched into our sidewalks, support for public art enshrined in a city ordinance..... 
Preservation and renovation of solid old buildings has become the first choice, not an afterthought. We have begun to understand bicycling and walking are real modes of transportation that make our streets more vital and interesting.
He shared with the Post Bulletin that, "My work, and my success, has always been based on my relationship with the community." Adding that making the city attractive to those who already live and work here is where the work of attracting visitors, patients, and new residents should begin. According to the local reporting, Seeb will become one of those people who live and work in Rochester early next month.

Even though it sounds a bit too cute for Seeb to say he became interested in the job because of the DMC branding - "America's city for health" - it could well be sincere, or at least sincere-ish.

In May the St. Paul Riverfront Corporation produced the 4th Annual Placemaking Residency: Moving the Twin Cities to Better Health. In a piece that appeared over his name and that of Kathryn Correia the president and CEO of HealthEast, the event is described as a week where:
Participants are exploring critical questions like: How do we measure the impact on a city’s economy if more resources are invested in walking and biking infrastructure? What role does affordable housing play in supporting greater health stability for its residents? How does the natural environment contribute to better health outcomes?
How do we disrupt patterns that have led to distinctly poorer health outcomes for people from some neighborhoods when compared to others? What design and policy decisions have resulted in food deserts? What are the best examples of multi-generational play and recreation areas and what can we do to create more of these?
Though the clip below ends on a joke that falls flat with this crowd and there's a bit of an obligatory sponsor love-fest at the beginning, here is Seeb, introduced by Correia, speaking about the Placemaking Residency:

A few years ago, reflecting on "a thing or two" the St. Paul Riverfront Corporation has learned about "city building," Seeb offered these lessons:
1. Commit to Guiding Principles
2. Take the Long View
3. Work Collaboratively
4. Be Persistent
5. Celebrate Success
6. Build on Current Assets
7. Respond to Market Forces
8. Encourage Debate
Writing more recently at what is now the close of his tenure, he observed, "During those 20 years, public participation in city building has changed from input to engagement and now to power-sharing."

In Rochester where we suffer from engagement fatigue, where input is often of the "thank you very much for your time please take some cookies with you when you leave" variety, getting some of this "power-sharing" thing sounds kind of nice - even a bit "exciting". Sooner the better.

Term Limits: deeds "in accordance with" words

The local story on Seeb's hiring has him referring to "the old adage: 'Change comes at the speed of trust.'"

First of all, "speed" is an interesting term to introduce into a process that has not been known for speed. For all the hurry up of the DMC legislative strategy, since its passage in May 2013 we've had a whole lot of what feels more like wait.

Secondly, the adage isn't all that old. "Speed of trust" is part of several trademarks filed since 2006 by Covey/Link LLC and likely copyrighted that same year as a book by the same title. So, "speed of trust" like "America's city for health" is kind of a brand thing. Anyway, the phrase has made the rounds, breaking free of its marketing origins and the product line of leadership soap it sells. Nothing wrong with marketing origins. That's how we got the Pledge of Allegiance. Who knows where Seeb picked up the phrase.

Even though the holders of trademarks and copyrights on "speed of trust" also offer up a math-ish formula where trust is a multiplier and makes it all look like something you could pay money to learn, when I read it coming from Seeb my thoughts went elsewhere.

How would you measure the speed of trust?  DPW, I think. Trust moves at a rate of deeds per word. Except "per" here means not "for each" but rather "in accordance with".

Before we really get to know Patrick Seeb, we will probably have to endure a bit more of the right people saying the right words about him and the excitement we must all be feeling that he has come to Rochester at this exciting time where we are all so excited by D-M-C. It's a rite of passage. A bit embarrassing for all involved, but there it is.

Frankly, I kind of like the words the guy uses when he talks about the work. And like I said at the beginning, what deeds come of these words is something about which we'll just have to wait and see. The reason I think Seeb understands that already is he seems to know that "Change comes at the speed of trust." Or so he says anyway.

Welcome to Rochester, Mr. Seeb. Where you now work, we used to boil and consume crustaceans.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Striking at the root

"...and to live among monsters is to live on the edge of hell." - Kenneth Burke

From her, I receive dispatches. These reports I would craft into parables as if each were a lesson rather than a summons. By transforming them into arcs of hope perhaps her stories will not break me. But they should. And I should let them. Not only break, but shatter. ...
...The more we remind ourselves to think positively, the more immersed we are in the business of denying our despair at the struggles we see around us. We decide to move far enough to the edge of our culture to see it clearly. What is the norm and normal does not serve us well. Many of us have tried to live a "normal" life, and how is that going? I have taken vows that I have broken, I have hurt people that I have loved, and there is no self talk that will change that. If I can accept these struggles in myself, then my chances of seeing the struggles of others compassionately increases. This means we have to be abnormal and imperfect. We have to be willing to see clearly and to question what others seem to condone....

- Peter Block, The Answer to How is Yes
So, she told me, that night, in this city, there was a child with cause to fear her father. This fear the child has in common with her mother for the child has in common with her mother the same father.

Now: how is it I can think of anything else? I do, of course, but how is it that I do?

I recall a night when I was a child coming to an epiphany. The word for it came much later, but what came that night as I wondered if anyone else was laying awake in the dark was a certain, laughing realization that of course there were others. If not in the house, then somewhere. A somewhere that night that expanded beyond the house and out into a world that I knew to be round, where the sun was always somewhere rising and somewhere setting. A big thought.

Later would come bigger thoughts. Somewhere someone was getting up and someone was going to bed somewhere. Someone was eating breakfast. Someone lunch. Someone dinner. Right then. All this was happening. Even when I slept, it all was happening. All the time, somewhere. All the time we have in a day and all the things we do in a day was happening somewhere.

Somewhere all the things that happen to us is happening. Someone being born. Someone dying. All manner of births. All the ways we die. All the things we do to each other, somewhere is being done. Somewhere all the things we say to each other is being said by someone to someone. On and on.

All the time, all the time we have and all we do or are is happening, now. There are so many of us that all of what we are must be happening somewhere. An incomprehensible din of all of it.

Only god could comprehend it. All creation happening at once. In any moment, all is available for review. All virtue. All sin. All the time. One constant hiss of everything, always. What more could god possibly need? What is god waiting for?
...A demon denies time, change, growth, dialectic, and says at every moment: This can't go on! Yet it goes on, it lasts, if not forever, at least a long time....(Reasonable sentiment: everything works out, but nothing lasts. Amorous sentiment: nothing works out but it keeps going on.)

To acknowledge the Unbearable: this cry has its advantage: signifying to myself that I must escape by whatever means, I establish within myself the martial theater of Decision, of Action, of Outcome. Exaltation is a kind of secondary profit from my impatience; I feed on it....

Once the exaltation has lapsed, I am reduced to the simplest philosophy: that of endurance....I suffer without adjustment, I persist without intensity: always bewildered, never discouraged; I am a Daruma doll, a legless toy forever poked and pushed, but finally regaining its balance....This is what we are told by a folk poem which accompanies the Japanese dolls: Such is life/Falling over seven times/And getting up eight.

- Roland Barthes, A Lover's Discourse
And that's how I do it - think of anything else. Baffling reminiscence. Brooding "archetypes of instrumentality and desire."

So, she told me, that night, in this city, there was a child with cause to fear her father. This fear the child has in common with her mother for the child has in common with her mother the same father.

In Walden, Thoreau writes, "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root."

This night, in this city, she is striking at the root.


With a few edits here and there, what appears above was largely written five years ago after a (another) conversation with Karen Edmonds who is now the executive director of Project Legacy.* Project Legacy is the latest iteration of the work in which she and her husband John have been engaged for over two decades. Local news outlets have reported on this work from time to time. Most recently here, here, and here.

In a recent Facebook post, Karen writes,
When the Chief of Police for RPD rearranges his schedule to sit in Circle for two and a half hours with Project Legacy youth.

When young people speak so deep, ...speak their truth, and share their stories with 100 community members who came out to learn, support and begin to build a better community. If only it had been 1000 who made it a priority to hear our youth.
When a 20 year old recites the words spoken to him five years ago by our key note speaker, David Carson: "You can't enter the palace of the King speaking the language of the Peasant." Words he said he took to heart, memorized and they were life-changing.
When a young mother of three - an addict, an alcoholic- attends Circle for the first time seeking support as she tells the group she is 4 days clean for the first time in 4 years....and asks for the support of Project Legacy.

When the Chief of Police shares his story, all eyes locked on his, the room hushed. All opening their hearts to hear, understand, learn and forgive.
When Peter Boesen flies in from L.A. with Devontae and they both share their story and ask others to support Project Legacy as he and his wife, Stacy, have.

When nine Project Legacy youth ask the audience, including the Director of Adolescent Mental Health and the Director of Community Services, to please support this program that has changed their lives and given them the Hope, Love and Opportunity they never had before.

When my husband, John Edmonds, asked the audience, "Why shouldn't these children have the same opportunities as our children? They need your support. They deserve your support."
When I sign on this morning and read the words of the youth and their friends who respond......

My heart is full of love for our youth and the community members who are beginning to respond.

Please, support our youth. Act to end addiction, hopelessness, generational gang affiliation, homelessness, poverty and racism.  

Though Project Legacy must hack through the branches, it aims always at striking at the root.


*Disclosure: I sit on the Project Legacy board of directors.

Monday, August 10, 2015

On second thought(s)

Evagrius of Pontus, fol. 290r Codex Parisinus Graecus 923

It is not in our power to determine whether we are disturbed by these thoughts, but it is up to us to decide if they are to linger within us or not and whether or not they are to stir up our passions. - Evagrius of Pontus, The Praktikos

I'm sure we all have our favorite among the third and fourth century Desert Fathers (and Mothers) of early Christian history. For me, it's always been Evagrius of Pontus (345-399 CE), also known as Evagrius the Solitary, which seems a redundant appellation given he was a hermit. Despite his writings being declared anathema by the fifth, sixth, and seventh Ecumenical Councils, Evagrius' teachings regarding the Eight (Bad) Thoughts -  gluttony, greed, sloth, sorrow, lust, anger, vainglory, and pride - were the precursors of the Seven Deadly Sins fashioned two centuries later by Pope Gregory I.

Whether you regard Gregory's catalog of sins as grave threats to receiving divine grace or simply a bucket list, odds are you long ago got the idea. Now you know that that idea traces back to Evagrius. But it's not that idea that made me a fan of Evagrius. What I like about this guy is his thinking on second thoughts.

We have these Eight (Bad) Thoughts that come seemingly on their own, but for Evagrius any one of these thoughts opens the way for a second thought should we choose to think it. In fact choosing whether and what to think next is the crux of having the second thought. After Evagrius I have come to believe that maybe much of virtue rests upon having second thoughts.

Please forgive me as I move from a notional reference regarding virtue to an observation regarding the city council. I appreciate that placing these topics in close proximity may give some readers pause. Believe me I am myself caught somewhat unawares, but as Evagrius would remind us, some thoughts come unbidden as if borne by demons.*

Even so, it is not virtue so much that brings the city council to mind as it is this thing about second thoughts. According to recent reporting in a local news outlet, it appears the city council has had one. Not so many days ago citizen involvement in their own civic affairs was the object of alarm by some elected officials and city workers. However, that alarm may not linger much longer.

Reporting on a recent meeting of the city council where five development projects were acted upon, Andrew Setterholm writes, "the contrast between those with neighborhood support and those without it was clear."
Those projects with early neighborhood involvement moved smoothly through public hearings and evoked little or no disagreement between council members. One project that involved citizens later in the development process faced harsher comments and split council votes.
The council president is quoted concluding that "it is clearly in their [developers] best interest to engage neighborhoods early and often. It will save them time and money and a whole lot of heartache, it would seem."

It would also seem that the council is considering text amendments to city ordinances that "increase citizens' opportunities to participate in the development process." These include better notifications about public hearings on projects and incorporating neighborhood associations into the development process.

The council president offered this advice to developers: "I think the projects have indicated that those that engage the neighborhoods and reach, hopefully, a compromise have a much greater chance of successfully getting through the process."

"Reaching a compromise" sounds a lot like negotiations to me. "Negotiations" by citizen groups with developers was the very thing city staff decried only a few weeks ago as a threat to the decision-making powers of the council.

On second thought, rather than threaten the council's decision-making powers, it would seem citizen participation improves the decisions the council is empowered by citizens to make.


*Evagrius would probably leave off the "as if".