Monday, January 17, 2011

NoMi Entertainment - CC and WangWang Harmonize

The NoMi lifestyle isn't all hardcore politics,activism, outreach and anti-slumlord battles.  Sometimes we just get together and find ways to entertain ourselves using our children or our pets.  Or our pets and children together.

Here's a little Christmas Eve entertainment on the Jordan Pond.  CC and her dog WangWang (pronounced "wong wong," Chinese for little prince) have learned piano together. CC's fingers gliding the keys and WangWang on the vocals.

CC is well known for having awesome birthday parties and being one of the most uniquely bilingual children most adults know. She speaks and reads Mandarin Chinese just as well as she speaks and reads English.

She recently had her own table at the Indoor Farmer's Market held at Local D'lish where she drew Chinese characters with sentimental meaning picked out by the customers who had the option of leaving her a tip.

And as you can see from this video, she has learned to play piano like a pro.  And WangWang loves to  help.

Life in NoMi is highly enjoyable, never a dull moment, and quite normal.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Enough of the Empty Houses Already! Editorial Series: 2011 Agenda Part 1

Fine Farview Victorian

Magnetic McKinley Mini-Mansion

Handsome Hawthorne House

I *almost* bought this house in 2002

Parkway Charmer

One of my most favs in all of NoMi

Front yard of 2700 Block of Penn

Happy 2011 and let's jump right into it. Everyone knows the holiday season and the beginning of a new year is a natural time for reflection of the past and looking to the future. Planning and shaping and taking action.  Here at the NoMi Passenger blog a new year is no different.  Let's reflect and plan and shape and take action together; after all we are all passengers on the same voyage through NoMi.

I've got a few thoughts and ideas that I'd like to see move forward in 2011 and it will be a group effort to fine tune them and push them forward to action so I'll do that here.  Consider it my 2011 Agenda.

First up, fill the empty houses, already! It's 2011 and empty houses dot every block in NoMi for various reasons.  We've been experiencing the vacant house disease for how many years now? Four? Five? Many of these homes are already owned by the city (or county) or could easily be acquired, sometimes for pennies on the dollar.

For several years now I've been saying out loud, or in emails and internet postings "SELL THE HOUSES FOR A DOLLAR" or "GIVE THEM AWAY TO CITY EMPLOYEES".

We've seen some benefit from the Minneapolis Advantage program which has given a grant to qualified purchasers of a qualified house.  But it hasn't been enough and it hasn't put a dent in the vacant house disease.  It's time for more widespread, drastic action from the city (and county) to get these houses occupied by homesteaders.

The city needs to get taxpayers back in these homes for the tax and utility revenues they would bring.  The neighborhoods and economic engines need more citizens to populate the neighborhoods, spend their money in the near-by businesses, be additional eyes and ears on the streets in the impacted areas.

The city needs to develop a program to sell or give the homes away for as little as one dollar.  I say start with the city employees.  Write a program to grant the deed to them after a 10 year occupancy, verified periodically by a program director.  I think city employees will be less likely to pull some funny shenanigans and do something stupid like, oh gee, rent out the house for income.

I know the city has done some dollar house give-aways in the past, I have met some folks who are still in their home that they purchased for $1.

However, if the city moves forward on something like this, and I urge that they do, they need to first and also do some immediate and drastic changes to the process of bringing a condemned house back into code compliance.  I have been hearing far too many nightmare stories from folks who have been through the process and are adamant that the hellish process is keeping the average joe from taking on such a daunting tasks.

To start revamping the code compliance process I'd recommend start by using an outside survey analyst to conduct and take in feedback.  Believe it or not I've heard people are actually intimidated to give honest feedback for fear of retaliation in the future, or being labeled as one of those crabby disgruntled people or having it affect anything they might do in the future.

Make it more reasonable to rehab a condemned house and start giving those suckers away to qualified people who will commit to owner occupancy for the next decade or more.

Let's get this done in the next six months so summer can bring a new wave of home ownership in NoMi. Let me hear from you in the comments, whaddya think?