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 3045 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Here's one big problem with a retractable roof: completely terrible seating in left. These scant few seats would have been tucked under the track. No sunshine, no open concourse, it was a terribly kludgy idea. With some hindsight, it's very clear that adding a retractable roof on this small site would have required compromises which would have just been too extensive to tolerate. Without it, the design was free to grow into something much more memorable.
Photo by Tyler Wycoff
Nuts on Clark (a couple blocks north of Wrigley Field)
One thing that the design disguises nicely is that the Pro Shop (and other key components) are actually built over lanes of freeway. That can clearly be seen here.
Section A, Row WC
The LRT station, sitting in a brand new urban canyon, takes shape.
End of the line.
Click to enlarge. (Photo by Tyler Wycoff)
This is where chain link is being replaced with fencing which matches the plaza
Inexplicable bright yellow baseball amid the trees.
Red is old Yankee Stadium. This diagram comes from FieldOfSchemes.com
Look at all that blank space. Canvas! (What should go on those walls? A giant schedule perhaps?)
1885 Sanborn Map Image (Source: Sanborn Map Collection, Minneapolis Public Library, Copyright © 2001 by The Sanborn Map Company, Sanborn Library, LLC)
Apparently, there will be public restrooms accessible directly from the plaza.
The completed promenade
Photo by Tyler Wycoff
Those two empty seats in the front row are where we started the game.
Name that band. Please. (Mick Sterling)
If you want, you can ask those folks how the game is going -- and even get a little bit of info from the big screen (Grandstand)
Many people will approace the park from this direction and it's a pretty great first glimpse. It features all the design elements in modestly condensed form, and still manages to look like a ballpark (instead of something else).
A mysterious smile from within a very deep planter!
Field access on the visitor's side
Clemson Memorial Stadium
Concept drawing of Coomer gate (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).
Click to see the full-size image.
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