Driving kids (5×8 – 6/1/11)

1) THE GREAT DRIVING DEBATE

Out in my neck of the woods — Woodbury — the Bielenberg Sports Center is the crown jewel of the city’s athletic fields. It’s also killed the neighborhood ballfield as most of the organized sports — kids don’t play unorganized sports anymore — take place there. Soccer, football, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, it’s all there. Driving home last night, the line of cars driving into the facility from the corners of the city stretched for more than a mile in each direction: SUV and mini-van after SUV and mini-van waited to get to the joint to disgorge its passenger, already in uniform and ready for organized fun.

Why did all those parents drive their little ones? In today’s MPR commentary, Charles Marohn says parents are doing their kids no favor.


The best thing we can do for the safety of our children is to get them out of the car. The most effective way to do that is to allow the construction of mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods that reduce the demand for auto trips by providing alternatives.

Let’s test this premise. In Woodbury, the city is highly regarded for its bike trails. And, in the case of Bielenberg, it sits within a 10-minute bike ride of most neighborhoods. The city also has neighborhood schools. Check the lineup of cars in the morning and afternoon, driven by parents who won’t let junior take a hike.

Disclaimer: We live two blocks from the elementary and junior high schools. We often drove them to school. What were we thinking?


2) AN OKEE DOKEE TRIP DOWN THE MISSISSIPPI

I turned 57 yesterday and I’ve never paddled – or driven along — the length of the Mississippi River. This sort of factoid bothers me more and more, but there’s a living to be earned, an economy to survive, and a list of chores that need to be done before winter. Maybe you know how it is. So I’ll live vicariously, following Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing — The Okee Dokee Brothers — who have set out on a 30-day expedition down the river. They’ll write and sing songs, as well as record a documentary DVD about the river, the people and fulfilling a childhood dream of theirs. Shoot. There’s a whole bunch of other things I can’t do. Here’s colleague Mike Pengra’s interview with the fellas.

The Pioneer Press also featured the duo in an article today.

Discussion: If you could take a month off from work, what would you do?

3) THE DANCING JEFFERSONIANS STRIKE AGAIN

There is irony aplenty in this video filmed over the weekend at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington. It’s related to a recent court ruling that a woman arrested for dancing at the memorial did not have a First Amendment right to express herself through dancing.

According to the National Parks Service rules for its memorials, there is nothing to prevent an individual from filming at the Jefferson Memorial.

4) A WALK DOWN THE AISLE

I’m quite late getting to this story but, you know, a good story keeps well. Jennifer Darmon was paralyzed in a 2008 accident. When her boyfriend proposed to her last year, she wanted to be able to walk down the aisle. Over several months, she documented her physical therapy on YouTube

Here’s episode one:

And here’s episode 6:

5) THE SILLY SEASON

This is the time of the year when we hear how silly some high school principals can be in the face of common sense. It’s senior high school prank time and the season for getting suspended and losing prom and graduation privileges. All over America, principals are unable to distinguish between levels of senior nonsense.

Fortunately, there’s still Ray Broderick of Westfield, Massachusetts who lifted the suspensions of a couple of seniors who had a light saber fight and two others who put Vaseline on door knobs in the school. Otherwise, they would not have been able to graduate with their class.

“These incidents may have been poor choices on their part but, I am comfortable that they will all go forward and succeed and have learned from this,” Broderick said.

Meanwhile, in Largo, Florida, eight students are suspended and probably won’t be allowed to take part in graduation exercises after they tried to mimic a prank they saw on YouTube, but they set off a burglar alarm instead.

Bonus: It was four years ago today that minor league manager Phil Wellman channeled the 2011 fans of the Minnesota Twins.

TODAY’S QUESTION

An agency of the World Health Organization has found that the use of cell phones may pose a cancer risk. Today’s Question: Will the report of a possible cancer risk from cell phones change your habits?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Reshaping the economy: Are we set up for a prosperous future?

Second hour: In his new novel, film director John Sayles examines an extraordinary moment in American history: The turn of the 20th century.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: What’s the matter with Minnesota’s housing economy?

Second hour: Tim Flannery, author of “Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: NPR political editor Ken Rudin.

Second hour: The healing power of music.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – NPR will have an in-depth interview with outgoing secretary of defense Robert Gates.

Duluth writer Danielle Sosin’s first novel “The Long-Shining Waters” attempts to capture the mystery and power of Lake Superior through the stories of three women living by the lake in different times in history. MPR’s Euan Kerr talks to Sosin.