Nice it forward (5×8 – 9/7/12)

The bullying antidote, the chance to watch someone fall to their death, the political conventions side by side, the floating bridge of Hastings, and the finest example of the American worker.


Like most everyone else with a heart, I’ve enjoyed seeing all the “off to the first day of school” pictures on Facebook this week. They’re darling, of course, what with the look of happiness and excitement at the prospect of school.

When and why exactly do they lose that look?

At some point, school — or the other kids who attend it — can be pretty rough.

In recent years, adults have tried all sorts of ways to make this growing-up thing easier for kids. Some of it has worked; much of it hasn’t.

But we pause for a moment to salute Tyler McKeever, who is the person behind the Twitter account @ERHSNiceWords, based at Woodbury’s East Ridge High School. The theory is a sound one: Just say something nice about people…

McKeever is a junior at the school. “I think the bigger it gets, the more kids will respect each other as well as staff… I am really just trying to make a difference in our school as well as community,” he said in an e-mail to his principal, shared with me by Aaron Harper.

“I think his efforts are inspirational, well intended and proving to be a positive force toward combating bullying and negativism,” Mr. Harper said.

The initiative, obviously, is an attempt to counteract bullying. The idea actually comes from @OsseoNiceThings at Osseo High School.

Kevin Curwick, a 17-year-old student, is the person behind the Osseo account. He told KARE he couldn’t stand by and watch the bullying.

update 12:53 p.m. – It’s catching on over at Woodbury High School, too, with @nice_whs.


It’s getting harder for non-profits’ fundraising ideas to stand out when everyone is fundraising. The North Star Council of the Boy Scouts of America tried something different last evening, offering anyone who rounded up $1,000 in pledges the chance to rappel down the side of Saint Paul’s Ecolab building.

It’s one of the rare events that will keep workers downtown after 5 p.m.


First up was someone from KSTP…


It took about 20 minutes for him to make it down. At one point, he dropped several floors in a few seconds, then didn’t make any progress for awhile, leading us to believe he didn’t mean to drop so fast…


The president of Ecolab, in the full suit-and-tie-uniform, made it down in about five minutes, waving to employees inside the building on the way down, and revealing that most of those on the ground were Ecolab employees. When he finished, the crowd left.

The Pioneer Press made a nifty video. Don’t look down.


They’re over. But if you didn’t get enough…


It’ll be a bridge parade on the Mississippi starting today. This center span of the new Highway 61 bridge in Hastings…


… will be floated downstream and lifted up to the under-construction new bridge between now and Monday.

Here’s how MnDot describes the process on the project’s website:

Step 1: The river channel will be closed for approximately 72 hours. The Main Span is lifted from its shoring towers (which are then removed). Self-propelled modular transports (SPMTs) will be used to guide the Main Span down to the river where barges will be waiting.

Step 2: The Main Span is moved onto to two barges (72’x260’x16′). Water is pumped in and out of barges to maintain a level surface.

Step 3: Tug boats move the Main Span away from shore.

Step 4: The Main Span is moved out of the navigation channel. The channel will then be re-opened (for up to 60 hours).

Step 5: The river channel is closed again. The Main Span is moved down river to the bridge site.

Step 6: The Main Span is aligned with a skid system that will be used to move the span into place between Piers 5 and 6.

Step 7: The Main Span will be lifted using hydraulic strand jacks mounted on the top of Piers 5 and 6.

Step 8: The Main Span is secured in place. The channel is re-opened.

The Hastings Star Gazette is providing a live video feed…


The process is expected to be completed by 11 Monday night. Then, starting on Wednesday, the old bridge will be closed for several days. Find an alternate route.


There can’t be more than a handful of people on the planet who’ve gone off to work every day for the same company for 73 years. Now there’s one fewer. Rose Syracuse, 92, has retired from Macy’s because of a broken hip she suffered a few months ago.

Video at the link. (h/t: Ken Paulman)

Bonus I: NPR, like MPR, really heard a blowback from coverage of research this week that concluded — among other things — that the nutritional value of organic fruits and vegetables isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Science and beliefs don’t always mesh.

Bonus II: F. Scott Fitzgerald is not buried in his hometown of Saint Paul.

Bonus III: It’s Charlotte’s Web Day! (h/t: Eric Ringham)


President Obama formally accepted his party’s nomination for a second term last night at the Democratic National Convention. Today’s Question: What did you think of President Obama’s speech?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Heidi Moore, New York bureau chief for Marketplace, discusses the latest jobs report.

Second hour: Metropolitan Council chair Sue Haigh on how the agency can address the changing economic, transit and housing needs of the region.

Third hour: Rebroadcast of President Obama’s acceptance speech.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): The second in a series of Chautauqua Lectures about the American presidents. Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy speak about their new book, “The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity.”

Science Friday (1-2 p.m.) – From West Nile in Texas, to Hantavirus in Yosemite, viruses that cross from animals to people are in the news.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – It’s the finale of NPR’s series “Mom and Dad’s Record Collection.” We hear about Don MacLean’s “American Pie” album, and how it helped bridge a gap between a woman, her estranged father, and her young son.

Here’s the entire series.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Re The bullying Antidote –

    The greatest fear that I had about becoming a father was that I wouldn’t be able to prevent or heal my children’s pain and suffering that inevitably come with this life thing.

    Fortunately for all concerned, thus far said suffering has been minimal ( although according to my 11 yr old, the misery of not being allowed to have an ipad or iphone yet is almost unbearable.)

    The compassion and work of this young man in Osseo – and your publicizing of it – has made my day.

    And it’s still pretty damn early here at the beach.


  • Joe

    Having three teenagers and a twelve year old it is inspiring to see what this young man has done. It take s a ton of courage to do something like this especially at his age as the peer pressure to “be like everyone else” is overwhelming.

  • essjayok

    The anti-bullying efforts of those students is truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing!!

  • boB from WA

    Could have used the anti-bullying message last night for those who were bashing each other in the comments section last night.

  • kennedy

    Attempting to tie two unrelated threads (#1 and Bonus I)…

    @OrganicEaters-Discussing the benefits of organics doesn’t doesn’t cast doubt on your value as a person. You are still cool and hip. If you like something, keep doing it.

  • Steph

    Hasting Bridge Watch on Facebook is tracking the move. Great pictures and just really fun to check out.

  • Jim Shapiro

    boB from WA – “Could have used the anti-bullying message last night for those who were bashing each other in the comments section last night.”

    While I’m all in favor of an increase and predominance of positive messaging,

    my understanding of “bullying” is a malicious, unjust treatment of someone who is unable to defend themselves.

    While that definition is certainly left to the eye of the beholder,

    for better and worse, some of us ( albeit perhaps testosterone poisoned ) live for a good, clean fight.