20th Century, History, Theatre, Uncategorized

Guthrie Theater

Original Guthrie Theater – circa 1963. Amy Sanders. guthrietheater.org

May 8, 1963
The Guthrie Theater, named for its founder and first artistic directory, Sir Tyrone Guthrie, opens in Minneapolis with a performance of Hamlet. Known as an innovator “interested in places that aren’t central marketplaces of theater,” Guthrie assembles a distinguished repertory company that includes George Grizzard, Hume Cronyn, and Jessica Tandy. *

In a private conversation over breakfast, three friends despaired the commercialization of Broadway. This triumvirate, composed of uber director Sir Tyrone Guthrie, stage manager Peter Zeisler, and producer Oliver Rea, committed to move elsewhere and build a theatrical community of their own design. ** They were determined to bring gravitas, excellence, and elevation to audiences not exposed to classical theatre.

To be more precise, Mr. Guthrie gave the following quote as to why he saw a promising future of theatre in the Twin Cities.
“We believe that something here (Minneapolis-St. Paul) had a chance growing into an institution where we did not believe that such a growth was absolutely possible on Broadway. The over competitive, over stimulated, over crowded nature of the Broadway theatre makes it impossible to take a longer view than Thursday next.” **
In Minnesota, these men found a fertile soil to plant their theatre. Local businesses and foundations donated exploratory money and land. Renowned local architect Ralph Rapson was tapped to provide his forward-thinking concepts to the building, and Tanya Moiseiwitsch designed the thrust stage.,* Public support was profound, and Minnesotans volunteered to boost ticket sales, and raised $2.2 million to establish the project.****

To embellish this point further, Dr. Guthrie gave the following answer to local Minnesota students when asked about the importance of “this kind” of theatre. His reply reveals his heart to inspire.
“Plays are meant to be acted, not dissected in a classroom…Just as a community needs a public library where great books are available, or an art museum where you can see great pictures, or a symphony orchestra where you can hear great music, so you need a theatre where great plays can be brought to life.” *

So we turn to You, Host of History, to remember this moment when a theatre is born. No one but You can write a script eons long, heighten the drama of the human experience, or provide the unexpected denouement of our Christ! Today, we remember You, first, as the Supreme Author and Director of the drama of life. Be forever praised!

We applaud Sir Guthrie’s efforts to establish a beachhead of this art form within the seas of entertainment of the 1960’s. Bravissimo! Has he captured Your heart when he stated, “Plays are meant to be acted not dissected in a classroom…”? We see something very sacred here; when one acts, they are placing their whole being in participation of a storyline while potentially engaging both themselves and their audience very deeply with the virtues of a great script. Engagement through action involves risk. Yet, the potential for learning at a much deeper level, and the rewards of making a brave journey are only known by those who partake. So, we thank You for this moment that sparked this vision in the Guthrie Theatre Company, its patrons and volunteers, and its impact on Minnesota of 1963!

It is apparent that this venture, which has captured the hearts of at least two generations of Minnesotans, had to battle through the seas of modernity. Since the era of movies and television, theatre has been largely monetized. Where can we find a place where “stories for the sake of stories” exist?

Although they can and do exist in live venues, we still and feel the encroaching arms of influencers. Playwrights become famous, often, when they sell their rights to make a movie of their scripts. All kinds of foundations seek writers, directors, dancers, and theatre companies who will bend a story to their liking. Even political and spiritual groups are in on the game; i.e. “we will fund you if you heighten this issue, let’s call it “Issue X”, in the public’s mind through your artistry.” Good G-d, have we moved an inch as artists from being the court jesters, poet laureates, or entertainers of the aristocracy?

But You, our Prophet of Parables, taught us in a similar way except You forsook our purse strings for our heart strings! Help me remember a few, Lord?
The Lamp-Matthew 5:14-16
The Mustard Seed-Mark 4:30-34
The Good Samaritan-Luke10:29-37
The Prodigal Son-Luke 15:11-32
The Sheep, Shepherd, and Gate-John 10:1-18
Though these fables and apologues were given to mostly agricultural Semetic people groups over fifty generations ago; they retain Your genius today for those not familiar with those sub-cultures! Conversely, the Messiah also intersected in parable with the educated and worldly within Israel, and freely spoke with relevance to Arabian, Persian, Greeks, and Romans. You spoke in parables to portray the unspeakable words of our hearts to us. Those not ready to engage with You heard a good story, while those who were found themselves exposed before Wisdom Eternal.

Will You forgive us our judgments past of a man who desired cultural engagement in greatness through the means of the Guthrie Theatre? Will You forgive us our misapplications of artistry, through all aspects of theatre, towards the highest bidder? Will You guide us as playwrights, actors, directors, crew members, costumers to “allow” our audiences to feel rather than emotionally manipulating what they “should” feel? Will You bless Minnesota theatre to go beyond Guthrie’s vision of greatness and into the Messiah’s chesed of heart?

Lord, I leave You with a story, (I’m sure You know it), and a prayer. About a century ago, three children climbed a hill outside Fatima, Portugal; Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta. There, they encountered an angel who taught them this prayer. I wonder if it was to buffer the suffering of the Great War? Today I echo this prayer which I amend only slightly.

“My G-d, I believe (in theatre and story), I adore, I hope, and I love Thee. I ask for pardon for those who do not believe (in theatre and story), do not adore, do not hope, and do not love Thee.”

P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
** O’Neill, Hannah. “An Englishman in Minneapolis: Sir Tyrone Guthrie”. May 12, 2017. Internet. https://www.continuum.umn.edu/2017/05/englishman-minneapolis-sir-tyrone-guthrie/
*** Combs, Marianne. “Architect Ralph Rapson at 91”. September 13, 2005. Minnesota Public Radio. Internet. http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/2005/09/13_combsm_rapson/
**** A brief history of the Guthrie.https://www.guthrietheater.org/globalassets/pdf/guthrie_history.pdf
* “Guthrie Theater: Miracle in Minnesota”. (The Minnesota Theatre Company)1963. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkIXv_L3QHQ&t=456s

Standard
20th Century, Architecture, History, Uncategorized

Skyway System Begins

Construction of the Skyway in Minneapolis, Minnesota – 1962. u/mrhistoricalmaniac. https://www.reddit.com/r/minnesota/comments/ihsla5/construction_of_the_skyway_in_minneapolis/

1962
The first Minneapolis skyway is built, linking the Cargill and Roanoke buildings across 7th Street. Eventually, a system of 50 skyways turns much of the downtown area into an enclosed city within a city.*

When futuristic, climate-controlled Southdale Mall opened in 1956, the downtown real estate developers saw “the writing on the wall”, or rather the writing in the sky. Single connections between buildings above ground already had the example of the 17th floor connection between the Merchants Bank and the First National Bank circa 1931 in Saint Paul, MN. ** Architect David Griswold brought that idea down to the 2nd floor, bringing the idea of an interconnected city to a more repeatable and feasible level.

The following synopsis of Griswold’s achievement has recorded by mid-century real estate experts at TCModern.
“It was a simply designed, convenient way to get to the Golden Rule shopping store on (then) Eighth Street (now Seventh Place) and Minnesota street from their parking lot across the street. It was a very basic, crude structure, measuring roughly 8 feet wide with a concrete floor over a metal deck. It also didn’t have heating or air conditioning. It was however a very convenient way to get to and from the store without having to navigate through (at the time) one of the busiest intersections of both trolley lines and pedestrians in the city.” * Following suite to modernize downtown Minneapolis, real estate heavyweight Leslie Parker tapped Minnesota architect Ed Baker to design the first branch of its soon-to-be skyway system ca. 1959. This branch opened in 1962 connecting the Cargill and Roanoke buildings.** (Northstar Center and Northwestern National Bank) Mr. Baker’s design improved upon Griswold’s in its aesthetics and climate-controlled environment. *
Fueled by this success, Parker championed adding more branches in downtown Minneapolis. Within it’s first decade, Parker had built a bridge between Ed Baker and Phillip Glass in the design of the show stopping IDS Center. Moreover, it’s new Crystal Court become the hub connecting beaches of the skyway on all four sides in a dazzling, all-season semi-public space. ****

Though critics have decried the development as the demise of street life, time has shown that this may be a partial truth. Granted, the skyway system grew to encompass 80 city blocks and about 8 miles of connections. Acknowledged, this second-story system competes with street level development, making an indoor or outdoor walk a choice. As early as 1972, city officials and developers noted that this choice also doubled the options for walk-up traffic to small businesses, and raised the price of second floor rents. In the bi-polar environment of the Twin Cities, perhaps, two stories are better than one? *****

Developer of the Cosmos, let me come and join You in Your eternal “right now”. Can I sit by Your fire, and take a load off? Can we chat about this creative moment in the life of Minneapolis? On second thought, I will remain quiet and hear Your thoughts as You are the only Architect and Builder of life in this universe.

The foundation of this time is remembrance, so I remember these specific names to You. Thank You for the imagination of developer Leslie Parker. I won’t judge the motives of his heart, that’s Your job, but I am grateful for a human being that wanted downtown to remain relevant.

By the same token, let’s remember the names of Ed Baker and David Griswold. There is so much about architecture that is an Imitation of Our Father! One must be aware of history, art, aesthetics, engineering, mathematics, and materials to create relevant structures. We thank You for the insights, discipline, and positioning of these men to create these skyways at just the right time.

Additionally, we thank You for the jobs created in all the trades necessary to actualize these visions: steelworkers, riggers, crane operators, to name but a few. We are grateful for the nearly doubling of walkable areas downtown, and the small businesses supported by this foot traffic. It’s a good thing to add the notion of “third spaces” to a growing city. Thank you for these insights!

We have judged the skyways and their creators: in their beauty or lack of it, in utility for downtown renters, as advantageous to major and minor downtown businesses, and in a means of isolating the business class from the urban street level. Will You forgive us in our criticisms in this era of 1962 and through to the present?

Will You forgive our judgment of another’s sense of aesthetics? Will You forgive our judgments of the skyways in relation to downtown residences? Why is it our business if someone else wants to have their home interconnected with and 80 block grid? We have exuded envy that our major or minor workplaces have too little or too much access due to the skyway system, and broken Your command not to covet. Will You forgive us?

Lastly, some of us have judged that this system is inherently classist because it is not entirely public. Conversely, protagonists of the Skyway believe their rights allow them to choose between maintaining privacy, semi-public, or completely public access to the property they own. Will You stand between these parties and help them understand each other, even if they never agree?

In the present, our significant forces in urban planning and city government have suggested removing the skyway system because it only functions for those with access to the system, dear One. This notion makes us think about the wisdom of Solomon in solving his contemporary urban issues in 970-931BCE.

“At that time two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him.
One woman said, “Please, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house, and I gave birth while she was in the house. On the third day after I gave birth, this woman also had a baby. We were alone, with no one in the house but the two of us. During the night this woman’s son died because she rolled over on him. So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I was asleep. She laid him in her bosom and put her dead son at my bosom. The next morning, when I got up to nurse my son, I discovered he was dead. But when I examined him, I realized that he was not the son I had borne.”
“No,” said the other woman, “the living one is my son and the dead one is your son.”
But the first woman insisted, “No, the dead one is yours and the living one is mine.” So they argued before the king.
Then the king replied, “This woman says, ‘My son is alive and yours is dead,’ but that woman says, ‘No, your son is dead and mine is alive.’ ”
The king continued, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought him a sword, 25and the king declared, “Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.”
Then the woman whose son was alive spoke to the king because she yearned with compassion for her son. “Please, my lord,” she said, “give her the living baby. Do not kill him!”
But the other woman said, “He will be neither mine nor yours. Cut him in two!”
Then the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. By no means should you kill him; she is his mother.”
When all Israel heard of the judgment the king had given, they stood in awe of him, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.”

Will You impart mercy, clarity of understanding, and wisdom of the proponents and opponents of the Skyways? Will You take these bitter roots: up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ? May our love for our city cause us to yield to each other rather than extinguish the life that remains! Amen.

P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
** https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/first-national-bank-building-skyway
*** http://tcmodern.com/who-was-first-minneapolis-v-s-st-paul-skyway-system/
**** https://frankedgertonmartin.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/the-great-skyway-indoors-in-minneapolis/
***** Nathanson, Iric. Internet. “Minneapolis Skyways”. MNopedia. December 31,2013. https://www.mnopedia.org/structure/minneapolis-skyways
****** Read this wonderful story in full. Kaufman, Sam H . The Skyway Cities. Minneapolis: CSPI, 1985.

Standard
20th Century, Americana, Folk, History, music, Uncategorized

Bob Dylan before his First Album

Bob Dylan Music as a Child. ca. 1953-57. Fizz.net

1961
Hibbing’s Bob Dylan, once a play-for-free minstrel at bars around the University of Minnesota, releases his first album. He takes folk into rock and rock into politics, and becomes a legend of American music. Born Robert Zimmerman, he assumes a new name that pays homage to Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. *

So many words have been spilt attempting to uncover the mystery of Bob Dylan. As an historian of Minnesota, I don’t want to play musicologist, but rather focus on a few early relational aspects of his youth that may have contributed to his character which may have contributed to his epic impact on the 20th century.

Louie Kemp began his friendship with Bob at Herzl Camp near Webster, Wisconsin during their preteen years. To his recollection, he witnessed Zimmerman’s first concert at camp in 1954 as an 11year old. The boys hung out in their teen years around Duluth, Minnesota where Kemp grew up. Dylan played around the U of M when Kemp when in attendance there. He likened their adventures to “a modern-day Jewish version of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.” **

Out of respect, let us allow Mr. Dylan to tell his own story of his Minnesota roots.

“My brains and feelings have come from there… The earth there is unusual, filled with ore,” Dylan said in a 1978 Playboy interview. “There’s a magnetic attraction there: maybe thousands of years ago some planet bumped into the land there. There is a great spiritual quality throughout the Midwest. Very subtle, very strong, and that is where I grew up.” ***

Now we turn to You, Adonai, and listen to Your music. You spoke and created. Did the music of Your voice assemble the matter of this universe? Only You know. Yet we remember, today, the place that writing and music has in Your heart! May we sit with You and watch this moment, Eternal Father? May we listen with You to this exciting beginning when You laid the foundation for Bob Dylan’s artistic release?

We remember first the importance of Herzl Camp. A place with the stated goal of the formation of lifelong Jewish friendships. We remember another after Your heart, David, who bound himself to Jonathan “in close friendship”. (I Samuel 18:1-5) We remember this place and thank You for its contribution in bringing root friendships into the lives of many. Will You bless and keep it in perpetuity?

Next, we thank You that friends give us the place to become. When we are safe, when we are accepted, we begin to believe that we have a self worth knowing. What a treasure You put into us; the longing to know and be known! We praise You that these boys, Louie and Bob, could experience this kind of brotherhood.

Additionally, we thank You for the importance of place and context to Your people and Your Kingdom. You made the tabernacle a place to intersect with Your Presence. You rescued Israel from the famine and placed them under Joseph in Goshen. You gave Your nation Canaan and established Jerusalem. And You gave Bob Dylan the context of Hibbing?!

Yet, in Your economy of purpose, it all makes sense; Hibbing is a place of great contrasts. It’s surrounded by silence and the noise of the largest iron mine on earth. It’s both “Anysmalltown, USA” and significant to the world. Maybe it’s like the writing of Dylan: compact, expansive, verbose, but not over-baked in its turns of phrase? Perhaps it’s like Your storytelling: only honesty, robust, mysterious, prophetic, and believable?

In any case, we remember and applaud this memory of Mr Dylan’s first record to You. We thank You of the inheritance and richness brought to Northern Minnesota through the Jews of Lithuania and all Eastern Europe. We commend You for seeing the talent of an 11 year old, in the middle of the woods, next to the largest open pit mine, in the center of a continent.

We thank You that this young poet participated in many of the most significant events of the next decade, but did not lose his identity. For some reason, Dylan could explore subjects that were misconstrued as political, but not yield to the generational political pressures of the Greenwich folk movement or the hippies. Similarly, though critics tried to place him in a religious box, he always seemed to know the secret of the Messiah; faith is an internal freedom and a permanent hat tip to the Eternal One.

Will You forgive the misbeliefs, unbeliefs, and offenses against You through the folk movement of this era? Will You commend the honest questions of this generation, and bring the inward as well as external peace they sought? Only the Messiah can radiate and impart such healing to our stumbling and prideful race because You know our brokenness, yet still CHOOSE to love us.

Will You speak words of life to this generation and the next and the next as You did through Bob? Will You bring chesed through the music of Minnesota?

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.” ****

Standard
20th Century, African American, History, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Uncategorized

Rondo Neighborhood Removed

The Place to Be. blackthen.com

1959
Freeway construction passes through established neighborhoods in the Twin Cites. The Rondo neighborhood, long a center of black community life in St. Paul, is razed to make way for Interstate 94. Four hundred houses are condemned and torn down.*

“If New York has its Lenox avenue, Chicago its State street, Philadelphia its Wylie avenue, Kansas City its Eighteenth Street, and Memphis its Beale street, just as surely has St. Paul a riot of warmth, and color, and feeling, and sound in Rondo street.” 
–Earl Wilkins, The St. Paul Echo, September 18, 1926**

Connecting the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul had long been in the minds of local civil engineers. The excerpt below from the MNopedia article by Ehsan Alam sums up their thoughts rather precisely.
“In the 1930s, commuters and city planners began to call for a highway linking the business districts of downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis. After World War II, city engineers chose St. Anthony Avenue as the route. This street was located between University Ave and Marshall Avenue, and went all the way to Minneapolis.”***

Yet, that is not the whole story. We find that there is a viable alternative to either Rondo or St. Anthony Avenues that wouldn’t split an existing neighborhood in half. Minnehaha Avenue, now known as Pierce Butler Route, is road that runs adjacent to the rail lines between Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Often, the land adjacent to rail lines is already publicly owned, and would suggest that this route may encroach less on neighborhoods and privately owned property. ****

Given these circumstances, one wonders “Why did these cities and Federal Department of Transportation leaders choose to place I-94 through many neighborhoods (including Rondo) instead of adjacent to them?” In any type of city planning or civil engineering events, there are myriads of motives and opinions that compete to be heard. Below, we explore a few hypotheses.

George Herbert Herrold, an engineer and city planner far and away has the most documentation of the City Planning Board of St. Paul, Minnesota. His manuscript covers a 33 year time frame from the start of the Board in 1920 until 1953; just the years that would tell us of their motives, studies, and actions. This research suggests that the city had an interest in eliminating slums. To elaborate, their working definition of a slum constituted a neighborhood with a high percentage of rental properties whose owners did not live in the neighborhood. *

However, what the Board defined as “slums” also was home to the largest African-American neighborhood in St. Paul. Granted, there were some run-down rentals, but there were also a large contingency of fine homes belonging to Rondo’s middle-class residents. Rondo had a population of roughly 30,000 of which about one-third were black, and the remainder composed by Italians, Jews, Native Americans, and a sprinkling of other ethnicities. It is precisely because of Rondo’s diverse assemblage that suspicions of “red-lining” or racist motives arise in criticism of St. Paul’s role in routing I-94 through this neighborhood.******

In contrast, we find evidence that does not support this conclusion. Department of Transportation employees did extensive studies on both alternatives, as they did elsewhere through the Interstate Highway System. Commonly, this looks like engineers doing on-site observations and gathering data: counting cars on every East-West thoroughfare, establishing “desire lines” (i.e. which roads are most preferred), collecting data on rush hour usage, travel times from origin to destination, etc. Of these DOT engineers professor C. Wells of Macalester College states, “the process that they went through would seem to suggest that race had nothing to do with it…”. **** The data collected suggests that the direct route along St. Anthony Avenue was the preferred route, and support for the “northern route” along Pierce Butler and the railway diminished.

As the neighborhood of Rondo saw the writing on the wall, they peacefully protested and gained concessions. According to the research of Mark Simonsen, their focus became the four points listed below.
1. Stay in homes as long as possible.
2. Receive Fair Market Value for homes.
3. Depress the freeway below street level.
4. Requested that they be able to buy new homes anywhere they could afford them. (Open Housing Law)****
Residents won the first three of these requests, but failed to enact the Open Housing Law. In fact, even the city of Saint Paul declined to honor the Open Housing Law within its boundaries. It’s City Attorney denied O.H.L. on the basis that it conflicted with Minnesota’s constitution; sellers could legally choose to whom they sold their property. ****
Shall we pray? Eternal Father, we are reminded of your words of promise today as we sit and watch this snapshot of history that physically divided the Rondo neighborhood with an Interstate.
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for the sake of My name will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Matthew 19:29-30 BSB *
We love that we can always come to You for a hearing, and that Your Hearing and Presence bring justice! Be forever praised!

As a starting point, we acknowledge that You provided two paths for Interstate I-94. We acknowledge that the outcome of following the less disruptive “northern route” may never be known. Yet, there was a solid opportunity to choose a route that had less impact on human lives and relationships. Did we miss You in this? Maybe so. In any case, we acknowledge that we chose the road that wrecked neighborhoods. Will You forgive the seeds of division sown in this moment by the proponents and opponents of running the highway by the railway? Where we judged our neighbor, we have offended You; will You heal the past, free the present, and bless the future in this decision of 1959?

Next, we see the depth of consideration and the data collected to resolve this issue. We remember that the DOT and civil engineers went out into the neighborhoods between Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and actually observed where our people drove, how many, and how long it took them to arrive at their destination. Like Your message to the prophet Isaiah, You continually invite us to “come now and reason together”. You are not threatened by our observations, science, data, or investigations!

We thank You that the numbers don’t lie, or in this case, the numbers don’t lie about where we drive; we voted with our wheels. Yet, we fully acknowledge that though “numbers don’t lie”, we are often skewed by our own biases as we interpret them! Will You lift the suspicion of these studies up, out, and onto the Cross? Will You be with us as we reconsider this moment with You?

To continue, we see this data filtered through the distorted looking glass of banking. As a short backstory, we find that the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) had created a system of segregation, real ethnic and racial division, and negated facts that challenged their narrative. It is here, if I can be so bold Lord, that I see some of the ugliest acts of racism and ethnocentrism committed in St. Paul of this era. It is a fact that the FHA created maps based on ethnicity and race. It appears that though the FHA commenced with noble pursuits, in reality it fostered and reinforced the racialization of space.

Lord have mercy! Christ have mercy! We allowed these dreams of placing a home within reach of all to take a wrecking ball to those deemed not worthy by bureaucrats! We give You the damage caused by our State and Federal government’s judgments contained in the word “slums”. We acknowledge to You all the pain and falsehoods spoken over the residents of Rondo like, “a black family will not be given a home loan west of Lexington Avenue.” We acknowledge the defilement of this land through judgment and counter-judgment: from the Mississippi River to Marion Street, from University Avenue to Marshall Avenue; this land is Your land! Will You take these lies, curses, unbeliefs, and misbeliefs up, out, and onto the Cross?

Conversely, will You speak truth to cursed ears and broken hearts? Will You impart life where it has been crushed and stunted? Will You uproot those who have negated human choice because it interferes with their vision of what “helping” looks like? Will You release Your Holy Spirit, and replace the memory of wrecking balls with “Welcome” mats in this Rondo corridor forever?

“Do not afflict your countrymen, but let every one fear his G-d: because I am the Lord your G-d.” Levitcus 25:17 Douay-Rheims Bible

Standard
20th Century, Culture, History, Shopping, Uncategorized

Southdale: First Modern Shopping Mall in the U.S.A.

Edina, Minnesota, 1950s | Hemmings Daily. blog.hemmings.com

October 3, 1956
Southdale Shopping Center, located in Edina, Minnesota, was the first totally enclosed shopping center in the nation. In 1952, its developers, the Dayton family, long-established Minneapolis department store merchants, commissioned the architecture firm Victor Gruen & Associates to create a new form designed to reflect and serve changing patterns of suburban living. The master plan combined elements of the village green, of European city centers, and of elegant arcades and gallerias, in a constant temperature-controlled enclosure. When Southdale opened in 1956, it included 72 stores, and was anchored by two major department stores, all arranged in a two-level design around a brightly lighted center court. It offered free parking, and its 5000 parking spaces were grouped into lots, well marked by clever symbols to aid in locating one’s own in the sea of cars. Not only did Southdale Shopping Center fulfill the vision of its creators as a center of commerce and of social life for suburban residents, it also fueled suburban growth and became a much-imitated model.*

One of the first questions moderns may have looking back on this event is; why? Why group several businesses together and change the cityscape of a neighborhood filled with individual stores? What is it about Minnesota that catalyzed the concept of indoor, totally-enclosed shopping? Did they really need 5000 free parking spaces when the populations of its host cities of Edina and Richfield were 9744 and 17,502 in 1950? **

Let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to start, by tapping into the motives behind malls based in the human psyche. Sociologists such as Lev Vygotsky and Homi K. Bhabha could be considered advocates of the “Third Space Theory”. Although this theory applies across many aspects of learning, relationships, and cultures as it pertains to this subject it pertains mostly to place. There seems to be a human need for somewhere to interact beyond home, school, or work; another living room to breathe without judgment. In the words of Southdale’s architect Mr. Gruen, he desired to “provide the needed place and opportunity for participation in modern community life that the ancient Greek Agora, the Medieval Market Place and our own Town Squares provided in the past.” ***

Given that Gruen anticipated Minnesotan’s need for this “third space”, we move to some of the environmental and land usage issues that fostered this indoor, air-conditioned mall. Many travelers have had a small taste of our winters during the holidays, but do they know that the “174 °F or 96.7 °C variation between Minnesota’s highest and lowest temperature is the eleventh largest variation of any U.S. state”? **** Let us assume that people may enjoy “street life” in a range of temperatures from 40-85deg. F; that leaves us with a 51.7deg. range of extremes where they will not congregate. Southdale solved these issues by bringing the town square indoors both in terms of places to rest, interact, and enjoy blocks and blocks of indoor walking.

Lastly, we come to the issue of the automobile; why would Gruen choose to encompass his centrum with seas of parking spaces? While obvious economic motives may be clear, i.e. more shoppers equals more profit potential, the author is reticent to place these motives on Gruen. He, as did the developers of Southdale, recognized that the democratization of transportation represented by the automobile would change the needs and wants of local residents. They may choose to work downtown, but live in new suburbs that gave them better air, more space, and an affordable home. Likewise, many found the idea of shopping closer to their homes in the suburbs desirable. Maybe Southdale’s creators parking rationale went something like this; if we divide the combined populations of Richfield and Edina (27,246) by 5,000, we arrive at a parking space for every 5.44 residents. Is it possible that Gruen wanted every family of five to have access to his “third space” even if they arrived by automobile? Perhaps we will never know that answer, but we do know that this wonder of sociology, architecture, and commerce became the iconic model for shopping malls for a generation. Bravo, Mr. Gruen!

Shall we pray? Father, we are grateful that You made us for community. You sent us the Messiah at just the right time that we could experience an eternal “third space”. We thank You for His sacrifice that satisfied our legal separation from You as the human race. You invite us to know You and to be known in Your Healing Presence!

Let us first ponder the life and struggles of Victor Gruen with You. As a youth he saw the best and worst of Austrian culture: studying at the Academy of Fine Arts, exploring social engineering and sociology, yet seeing the painful betrayal of the Nazi brand of socialism annexing his homeland. Did his urbane and Jewish upbringing combine in his designs? He brought together the forerunning concepts of sociology immersed in a very spiritual need for shabbat in the shopping mall. Though his visions may have never reached his anticipated fruition, we applaud this visionary man so much like His Eternal Father! You push us to the stars, yet You more than anyone desire our rest.

Is it grievous to You, Lord of the Sabbath, that the gift of Southdale has soured in the modern mind? Have we exercised prejudice against the shopping mall? Are we just in our assessments of this icon for suburban life past and present?

In many ways, we have discounted and discredited the 1950’s as a decade of compliance and conformity. Contemporaries mock the innocence of its cultural markers: owning a small suburban house, owning a car, and shopping at a mall. But what if we turn these words around, Spirit? The word “compliance” connotes “obedience to, accordance with, observance of, adherence to, respect for, agreement, assent, consent, concession, concurrence, and acceptance”. Additionally, “conformity” conveys the ideas of “acquiescence in, adaptation to, adjustment to, accommodation to, alikeness, resemblance, and similitude”. Have we judged You insofar as we have condemned our ancestors obedience to You and adaptation to each other?

Conversely, we acknowledge to You the seeds of rebellion sown in the soft rains of suburban life past. As a State and people, we relished the awesome freedom of travel due to the automobile. This wonderful mall gives testimony that we planned cities around it. Ease of commercial activity by car seemed to be an indicator of successful city planning. Neither of these desires counter Your Kingdom’s mores, yet even good desires can ruin us when they are in imbalance.

How does the old campfire song go? “Seek ye first the Kingdom of G-d, and His righteousness. And all these thing shall be added unto you, Alleluia.” You want us to “Halaluyah” (Heb.) “praise ye YHWH”, be in right relationship with Him, and then our desires for things come from a full heart instead of an empty one.

Where we have idolized shopping in this era and the present, when we have used it to overcome the pain of broken human relationships; will You forgive us this offense? We are people who love shiny, new things, and sometimes fail to polish ourselves and our ways of relating to others, and to our Maker. Will You forgive the feast for the eyes that shopping malls past and present represent to us, and its offense of enticement to You?

We invite Your blessing into the way(s) we find what we need. We invite You to direct our paths to our wants and needs. (We must always remember that Our Good Father, enjoys our enjoyment of good things!) Will You bless the buyers and sellers: past, present, and future into chesed? By Your Life, death, and resurrection will You direct us into the “third space”? Over Southdale and all her children, will You write “shabbat”?

“Then Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those selling doves. And He declared to them, “It is written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer.’ But you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”
The blind and the lame came to Him at the temple, and He healed them.” Matthew 21:12-14 BSB

Southdale 1956 Richfield Edina Shopping Mall History Video. You Tube. December 19, 2014. lumberjack1713.
Standard
20th Century, History, Transportation, Uncategorized

Interstate Highway System Begins

1956
Congress authorizes the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. Eventually, I-35 and I-94 link urban and rural Minnesota, while metropolitan multi-lanes connect suburb with city, home with work and shopping.*

To understand the largest infrastructure project in American history that began construction on August 13, 1956, one needs to backtrack to the beginning of President Eisenhower’s career. The young Eisenhower observed a convoy of vehicles and made study of their 56 day journey across the breadth of America. These findings pointed to the necessity of an efficient road system for the benefit of American citizens, their businesses, and for our military and national defense.**

Eisenhower’s goal spanned several administrations, numerous studies, and various iterations before it could be fulfilled. The timeline below shows some of the major steps.

National Interstate and Defense Highways Act (1956). http://www.ourdocuments.gov

1922- General John J. Pershing established the the first defensive network using existing roads. It became known as the “ Pershing Map”.


1938- President Franklin Roosevelt gives a hand-drawn map of eight proposed superhighway corridors to Thomas MacDonald; head of the Bureau of Public Roads. Macdonald’s study of these corridors is refined by Herbert S. Fairbank into the first practical study of the interstate highway system entitled “Toll Roads and Free Roads”.

1944- The “ Federal Aid Highway Act” authorized construction of a system approximately forty thousand miles, but did not provide funding.**


1952-1954- President Eisenhower tapped General Lucius D. Clay and the Clay Committee to develop the interstate highway plan. This lead to standardizations of materials, techniques, and designs. It sought to connect all metro areas in the United States with populations exceeding 50,000 people. It also necessitated a Federal Tax on gasoline which provided about 90% of the hefty $25 billion price tag. ($1092B in today’s dollars.)

So now we have a snapshot of what happened nationally, but how did this epic construction project impact Minnesota? We in the Twin cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul became a very important crossroads for vacationers, and commerce. Interstate 35 connects Duluth, Minnesota and the harbor on Lake Superior with a primary north-south artery of the system connecting with Loredo, Texas; a massive 1556 mile (2504km) corridor. We are also home of Interstate 94. This critical road connects the eastern branch of the Great Lakes in Port Huron, Michigan and terminates in Billings, Montana some 1585 miles (2551km) later. It’s the primary east-west branch of the Interstate system for the northern portion of the U.S.

Now we turn from history-past to addressing our G-d who lives and reigns in the Eternal Present. We remember You, Adonai, and just a few of the ways You made a way and a road for the nation of Israel. I recall how often the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah spoke of roads.

Isaiah
“And the king of Assyria sent the Rabshakeh from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem, with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field.” Isaiah 36:2 ESV


“A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3 ESV


“And it shall be said, “Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove every obstruction from my people’s way.” Isaiah 57:14 ESV


“Go through, go through the gates; prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway; clear it of stones; lift up a signal over the peoples.” Isaiah 62:10 ESV

Jeremiah
“Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” Jeremiah 6:16 ESV


“But my people have forgotten me; they make offerings to false gods; they made them stumble in their ways, in the ancient roads, and to walk into side roads, not the highway,…” Jeremiah 18:15 ESV


“Set up road markers for yourself; make yourself guideposts; consider well the highway, the road by which you went. Return, O virgin Israel, return to these your cities….” Jeremiah 31:21 ESV

(
“In those days and in that time, declares the LORD, the people of Israel and the people of Judah shall come together, weeping as they come, and they shall seek the LORD their God.
They shall ask the way to Zion, with faces turned toward it, saying, ‘Come, let us join ourselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant that will never be forgotten.’”
Jeremiah 50:4-5 ESV

Let us sit awhile with You, and remember that You are the Lord of Logistics. (Sorry we forget about Your miraculous relocation of the nation of Israel: out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and through incredibly arid and dangerous climes. Oh, and with the most formidable army in the world in pursuit!? When there is no way, there is Yah’s-way!) You make us alive, and have given every creature some mode of transportation that suits them. Yet, You care about things as practical as our Interstate system in little “flyover” Minnesota. Again, what say You about the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956?

We thank You for the epic dreams of our forbearers: General Pershing, FDR, Mac Donald, Fairbank, and General Clay! Acknowledging their planning and administration, we thank You for the tens of thousands of men and women who realized this vision. We praise You for the music of heavy machinery doing good work: excavators, backhoes, bulldozers, graders, dump trucks, loaders, and rollers! We remember all of those who burned up in the summers, worked in muddles in the spring rains, and froze in the winters. They got the job done, and did it well! We applaud them and Your approval of their efforts begun in 1956!

Our state is more secure in it’s defenses because they laid this road! Our economy is vastly improved because of the increase in interstate trade, and the reduction of the price in transportation costs to the end user of virtually every product or food; some years have seen a 35% increase in local economies because this system exists! Our people have enjoyed the pleasure of freedom of movement: they have seen more beauty through camping and RV travel, they can visit family across the US in a few days, and they do so in safety with easy navigation!

Yet, my mind moves to the spiritual and relational impact of our Interstates. How does this network of roads impact us past? We acknowledge to You the pride of colossal construction. Where have we offended You in this?

To commence, we see the temptations unique to our citizens that come with great freedom. Because it is possible to see more, do more, and trade more; we have too often taken the bait. We have not exercised self-control in our transportation businesses, to and from work, or even on vacation. Something deep in us drives us beyond a reasonable stopping point. Will You take these attachments and idolatries both past and present-tense up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ?

Next, I pray about our ease of movement and its’ disruption of our connection to Your land. How many human and creaturely lives were disrupted because I-35 crossed their paths? How many farms were cut in half? How many animals found their pathways to food or water blocked? How many neighbors were bifurcated by this road eating at least a 272ft wide path through their neighborhood?

Granted Lord, change is neither necessarily good nor bad, but I remember this fact to You; something whole was split in two. For some good reason, You saw fit to give us a yearning for home. Humans everywhere desire a place unique to them and their families. It just seems that the more we move, it may have tainted our desire to stay.
Do we look to “the open road” myths because our hearts have detached from our homes, our friendships and marriages, and inwardly from even ourselves? Do we bustle about to expand the territory of our businesses because we cannot stop on our inward scenic overpass, take in a breathtaking view of our accomplishments, and say “I’m good.”?

Lord, as this fabulous Interstate System is a metaphor for connection, there are are a few declarations I want to pronounce with You over this epoch. By the Cross of Christ, by the Blood of Christ and His Resurrection, and by the Eternal Word I want to declare my agreement with You, Isaiah, and Jeremiah over the entire “National System of Interstate and Defense Highways”, from 1956 to the present, and into Your eternal now to ‘join ourselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant that will never be forgotten’. May the detached coasts inside be connected! Reknit the neural pathways of our minds, drive us to new habits, and bathe us in new ways of thinking! Be the defender of our hearts against evil, and help us take in the beautiful, the good, to put the rag-top down and go crusin’ with You!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** Infrastructure Explained.“The History of the Interstate Highway System”. Internet. You Tube. October 5, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7n6g1ypx1PE
*** http://www.learningabe.info/NationalTrail_taskthree.html
**** https://www.transportation.gov/content/federal-aid-highway-act-0
See it in writing? “Transcript of National Interstate and Defense Highways Act (1956)” http://api.mnhs.org/mgg/words/html/custom/highway_act.html
Feel like watching? Check out this reliable source from TPT (Twin Cities Public Television) https://www.tpt.org/interstate-94-a-history-and-its-impact/

Standard
21st Century, News, omnipresent history, Uncategorized

“My Little Finger”

Washington Monument January 6, 2020.

Do you ever get tired of the cycle of bad news? Are you ever amazed at how current event news, especially when an election is involved, becomes an agent of division in our society? Old friends refuse to have a cup of coffee with old friends because they believe the rhetoric online, on TV, and blowing through the airwaves that disagreement equals domestic terrorism?

When “new” news makes me tired, I find comfort in the “old” news of G-d’s eternal reporting in the Torah. The labels may change, but His laws and His words yield wisdom for those who are willing to sit with Him awhile. Look at what the sweet Rauch Ha’Kodesh led me to this week; a 2900 year old call to our leaders to emulate the Father’s perfect balance of grace and truth within moments of crisis!

Israel Rebels Against Rehoboam

Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all the Israelites had gone there to make him king. When Jeroboam son of Neat heard this ( he was still in Egypt, where he fled from King Solomon), he returned from Egypt. So they sent for Jerobaom, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him:

“Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.”

Rehoboam answered,

“Go away for three days and then come back to me.”

So the people went away.

Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime.

“How would you answer advice me to answer these people?”

They replied,

“If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants”

But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. He asked them,

“What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us?'”

The young men who had grown up with him replied,

“Tell these people who have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter’ – tell them

“My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.”

Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam, as the king had said,

“Come back to me in three days.”

The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, he followed the advice of the young men and said,

“My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.”

So the king did not listen to the people. For this turn of events was from the Lord, to fulfill the word the Lord had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite. When all Israel saw that the kine refused to listen to them, they answered the king:

“What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, O Israel! Look after your own house, O David!”

So the Israelites went home. But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them. King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram, who wa sin charge of forced labor, but all Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.” I Kings 12:1-19 NIV

Last week, my wife and I attended significant events on the east coast; events for peace and prayer, and events that lawfully protested the foreign interference in the 2020 Presidential election. Those in attendance emulated Israel; they humbly asked for their government to hear them.

Yet, this massive crowd, perhaps 800k to 1.2million people, had their voiced overshadowed, again, by the actions of maybe a few hundred attendees who crossed the line into violence and riot. This small but violent mob was instantly addressed on Twitter by the POTUS, but the social media giant erased his message to stand down and disperse. Why would they do this?

As our group of intercessors left the greater Distict of Columbia, news reports began pouring in that mislabelled the entire event as a riot, and even questioned if all attendees should be thought of as “domestic terrorists”. With G-d as my witness, we heard no such messages remotely inciting violence from any events, from the stages, or from the various speakers from the six major rallies on the Mall. * This rally happened because of the failure of the following governmental entities to “hear” them or their allegations of foreign interference and or voter frXXd:

-They were not heard by the Secretaries of States, Governors, Lieutenant Governors or at least six states.

-They were not heard by the U.S. Courts of Appeals. (District Courts)

-The Supreme Court refused the case brought by Texas with the weight of 17 additional states.

-The Vice President refused to act on Article II Section 1.2 of the U. S. Constitution. ** The attendees of this rally, in my humble opinion, were united in their hope for this outcome.

So we find ourselves in a situation that divided the House of David and the house of Israel so many years ago. Will President-elect Biden follow the steps of Rehoboam, or of the wise advisors? Will the leadership of the U.S. gov’t, whether serving in elected or appointed positions “hear” the mass of people, (allegedly 75 million Trump voters) who believe our process of elections has been significantly defiled? Will we practice the “scorched earth” politics of personal destruction championed by the young and unwise advisors of our future leaders?

Perhaps most importantly, what will you choose in regards to your neighbors with whom you disagree?

Will you “scourge them with scorpions”?

Will you make the weight heavier for them?

Will you tell them a story about your “little finger”, or will you hear their fear and pain of becoming a country of men rather than a country of laws?

As followers of the way, let me be clear, I am not here to build the Republican or Democratic kingdom. My Messiah calls to all who will hear Him; “Build the Kingdom of G-d.” All truth is G-d’s truth, and that is what we seek. Come Lord Jesus, hope of the nations!

“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be made known and brought to light.” *** Luke 8:17 BSB

*If one wishes to verify if indeed the POTUS DJT incited a “riot” as alleged, please see the transcripts below.

https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/donald-trump-speech-save-america-rally-transcript-january-6

** https://constitution.congress.gov/constitution/article-2/

*** https://biblehub.com/luke/8-18.htm

Another shot of the masses engaging in protest; not in violence or riotous behavior. January 5, 2020.

Standard
Uncategorized

Proleptic Tense

For modern writers, the prophet Isaiah had an impossible job. How does one describe a Being beyond time to those whose lives are so bound by it? Let me give an example of such challenges?

“Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,
Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure,’”
Isaiah 46:10

Looking for possible answers to this concept, I stumbled across an article on prophetic warning called “Back to the Future” written by authors Richard and Tina Kleiss in their book “A Closer Look at Prophecy” cited in full below. Enjoy mulling over these anachronisms?
BACK TO THE FUTURE
“God is not trapped “in time” (as we are) and is thus able to see the past, present and future. When He speaks of a future event to a prophet, He often speaks of it in the past tense, as if it has already happened. This strange phenomenon occurs so frequently in the Bible that theologians have created a special grammatical tense for it that is called the “proleptic tense”. Since God is all-knowing, and all-powerful, when he wills something, it is done, whether or not it has happened in history, and thus He will speak of it in the past tense.

An example can be found in Psalm 2, written by David a thousand years before the birth of Jesus. This is a reference to the millennial reign of Jesus that will take place when He returns to Earth at His Second Coming. God speaks of it in the past tense as if it had already happened, yet it is, in fact, a prophecy that is yet to be fulfilled. In the same manner, the Bible speaks of Jesus having been “slain from the foundation of the world”-Revelation 13:8 NKJV because that is when God willed it.

God has a plan for this universe and for mankind. It will be completed in every detail. No one can derail it. As far as God is concerned, it is already completed because He has foreseen it.”

Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion. Psalm 2:6

Standard
Uncategorized

It takes a Village Inn?

For those of us with kids, we all know we are capable of making rules we don’t live up to ourselves. It’s a staple of “shame-based” systems and relationships to practice the misbelief of “Do as I say; not as I do.” Shame teaches us to focus on blame, and not on responsibility. Shame makes people into the problem, instead of dealing with conflict and genuine disagreement in an honest way.

It appears that this dad, husband, and also Honorable Governor of the North Star State operates under this premise in this instance.

Good Father, will You move him to lift this heavy shut-down off our shoulders so we can: be responsible for our own health, make adult decisions, operate our small shops, restaurants, bars, and businesses, be restored to worship freely, have our kids go to school, and otherwise pursuit happiness? Will You forgive Governor Walz’s example as you forgive us our inconsistent examples? Let us be a free and happy people again, and trust our life and health to You! Amen.

Standard