Sharing and Caring Thoughts
April 19, 2008 1:03 AM
There's been much in the news lately about Sharing and Caring Hands and its proximity to the ballpark. In short, the city says it's just trying to address security issues, while Mary Jo Copeland (who founded and runs the organization) feels like she's about to be run out of town.
Sharing and Caring Hands, as viewed from the ballpark site about a block away. Note transaction in progress in the shadows.
It's a delicate thing, and I've been trying to put words to my feelings.
Every time I read about Mary Jo, my gut tells me that something just isn't right. She's so quick with the media, and she's so quick to play the "I'm just helping the homeless" card. She's so quick to name (and demonize) her adversaries -- even those who share her goals. She's so quick to put on the "poor little me" rhetoric. She never seems to be at fault.
If I haven't made this clear before, I find media manipulation to be rather seedy and distasteful. (You don't have to remind me that it happens all the time.) This is just the type of story that the media loves because it's got everything: sex, drugs, money, power, David vs. Goliath etc. And Mary Jo seems to always find a way to get the preemptive strike, which certainly happened this week with a press conference and a protest march.
I know the work is important. I'm glad her organization exists. I admire her stated goals, and her tireless approach. It's probably just about the hardest work there is in our society. It's very messy work, and maintaining the dignity and trust of the people she serves is a very important part of the work. That part is especially fragile, and can deteriorate rapidly if there are too many cameras or too many security guards.
But it is possible to do the work she does and avoid creating a haven for drugs and other illegal activity. Not only possible -- it is essential. An open-air drug market is just as bad for those in need of Mary Jo's help as it is anywhere else. It's unlikely that the drug dealers are there for the soup.
This is where the city is taking her to task, and from what I've read about the police calls, they have a right and obligation to do so. (Unfortunately, they are sometimes idiots at PR -- at least they're no match for Mary Jo.)
Off-topic, but this gigantic, cool, retro sign is just across the street from S&CH. Why? I don't know. Might look nice on top of one of those municipal parking ramps...
With a ballpark as her neighbor, her visibility just went way up, and with that comes some (probably unpleasant) scrutiny.
I've walked the neighborhood a number of times now, and stand by my impression that people walking past that place on the way to or from a game may not feel safe. That is not a function of what they do at Sharing and Caring Hands, but how they are doing it.
Seeing or encountering a person in need of food or a place to shower or sleep is not what I'm talking about. These people are often indistinguishable from a ballpark-goer (especially the needing a shower part). I'm talking about recognizing that there are people within that crowd who are there for a very different purpose, and taking advantage of the loose atmosphere in order to do it.
This will be a tough one for the city. They will need more finesse than they've shown so far. And until they can be counted on in that regard, the Twins should probably steer clear of this issue altogether. It really isn't a deal-breaker for the site at all, just something they need to plan for when putting together stadium security.
There may not be a better location for Sharing and Caring Hands, and I don't think that forcing them out of the neighborhood is in anyone's best interest. But I do believe that they have a responsibility as neighbors (not just of the ballpark) to police the activity associated with their facility. If the city is genuine, that's all they're asking for.
If they are not genuine, it's another issue. There's no question that the value of the land has increased. All of Mary Jo's suspicions are circumstantial -- but easily understood.
Most of all, these parties need to talk to one another and leave the media out of it for a while. I hope the planned meeting next week is a success.
Three Quick Photos
I've got a lot of stuff to weed through, but I shot these the other day and don't want to wait.
TCF Bank Stadium. Not for baseball, but still pretty cool to watch being built.
Some of Minneapolis' finest checking out the construction through a spot where a knothole will be one day.
A view of construction from the B ramp. This looks toward Seventh Street, over what will be Gate 34 (the main entrance).
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"You talk about the magic, the aura, but what really makes a stadium is the fans. Concrete doesn't talk back to you. Chairs don't talk back to you. It's the people who are there, day in, day out, that makes the place magic."
– Bernie Williams
Explore the Site
Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3042 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
B ramp glimpse
An alternate route into downtown. (Click to get an interactive map.)
Concept drawing for the fan/player appreciation wall. (Click to enlarge.)
This view is from the roof of a warehouse which stood where the A ramp is today. The HERC is now located where the tracks turned north (toward the top).
A little higher angle shows how the two stations are close to one another but distinctly separate. The oval, glass-enclosed area is the entrance from the Northstar platform below into the ballpark. The LRT platform is comparable to the other stations along that route.
Window area sketched by the limestone
This looks up Sixth Street from Hennepin. Just imagine what this will look like during a night game!
Legend's Club, Section E (Click to enlarge greatly.)
I think AP is in there somewhere...
No griping here.
"Original" or "Dinger" Dog
A sidewalk has sprouted between the HERC and the LRT tracks!
The plaza as viewed from across the park. The right field overhang section will be built just in from where the plaza supports are.
I have no idea what this is or does, but as gear goes, it's totally boss, man. (Attached to a railing just off of the Trap)
First, an overview. The base of the plaza here will meet the base of Sixth Street at Second Avenue.
The field will feel very close.
Hops! (conceptual only)
Bird's-eye view of the trees
Glare from the IDS never looked this sweet. (Photo by Jared Wieseler)
Main concourse, looking toward the admin building.
Signature elements. (And they wonder why we think the real trees look so small...)
This view looks up Fifth Street toward downtown and shows how the LRT tracks sort of snuggle up to the ballpark.
No, that's not Kent Hrbek. It's catcher Glenn Borgmann.
The media all turned out!
Skywalk over Seventh
Notice that the wooden-backed club seats are now covered by a green tarp for protection from the elements.
Roped off for the LRT crowd
That's part of the wind veil, waiting in the B ramp for installation
Oh, a flag pole will be so much more...dignified
BPM - Ballpark Magic
BRT - Bus Rapid Transit
DSP - Dave St. Peter
FSE - Full Season Equivalent
FYS - Fake Yankee Stadium (see also: NYS)
HERC - Hennepin Energy Resource Company (aka the Garbage Burner)
HPB - Home Plate Box
HRP - Home Run Porch
LC - Legends Club
LRT - Light Rail Transit
MBA - Minnesota Ballpark Authority (will own Target Field)
MOA - Mall of America
MSFC - Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission (owns the Metrodome)
NYS - New Yankee Stadium
SRO - Standing Room Only
STH - Season Ticket Holder
TCFBS - TCF Bank Stadium
TF - Target Field
Selected Bibliography - Analysis
First Edition (1992)
Second Edition (2006)
Selected Bibliography - Surveys
Second Edition (1987)
Not a "Third Edition" exactly,
but it replaced the above title
(2000, large coffee table)
Original edition (2000, round)
Revised edition (2006, round)
(2001, medium coffee table)
(2002, small coffee table)
(2003, medium coffee table)
(2004, very large coffee table)
(2006, very large coffee table)
Combines the previous two titles
(2007, medium coffee table)
Selected Bibliography - Nostalgia
Book and six ballpark miniatures