Monthly Budgeteer columnist Eddy Gilmore is a freelance writer, father of twins and husband of one. Connect with Eddy at eddygilmore.com.
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Emily Larson. Charlie Parr. Don Ness. Tin Can Gin. Teague Alexy. Dave Hundrieser. Naomi C, the fabulous tap dancer. And yes, a schmuck named Eddy Gilmore will also be included in the festivities. The common thread among each of the luminaries (and even yours truly, the Cinderella figure) is local, homegrown talent. On Tuesday, Nov. 24, a lavish feast of local talent will unfurl at The Red Herring Lounge.
Rotting debris, intentionally piled as if sculpted, is beautiful. What some cast aside as worthless becomes valuable. What had been reviled is renewed. Redeemed, if you will. Ripe for obsession, I was introduced to "hugelkultur" through the impressive urban farming efforts undertaken by The Duluth Grill. Pronounced "hoogel culture," it's a style of gardening that has persisted in Germany and Eastern Europe for hundreds of years. A simple concept, it pretty much amounts to nothing more than a mound of buried wood. Obsession met opportunity.
If Tom Hanson, owner of the Duluth Grill, were the CEO of a large corporation, he'd get fired. His chief failure to the suits would be his indifference to the goal of extracting and concentrating wealth at the top. "I prefer to do things the hard way," Hanson said. This was his response to my quizzical look upon hearing that he is doing his own demolition work inside the building that will become his next restaurant in Lincoln Park: OMC Smokehouse. That's short for Oink, Moo, Cluck. His path to success wasn't easy.
The future of the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad (LS&M), also known as the Scenic St. Louis River Railroad, is in imminent peril. This could potentially be its last season of operation. Fearing this might be my family's last chance to experience a ride drenched in history that follows the last six miles of track from the first train into Duluth in 1870, we finally made the journey. I'm really glad we did. If it goes away it'll never return. Ever. Is this attraction worth saving?
Place matters. It is our soil for sinking roots. Each contribution — 150 years of them in Duluth — has been like individual leaves falling to the ground, gradually producing a rich, alluvial-like cultural soil. We are all responsible for conserving culture, while simultaneously adding to its richness. Economy and culture in the Twin Ports, though the two need not be distinguished, is increasingly based on neighborliness rather than on a cutthroat sense of competition.
Duluthians agree that great efforts should be made to foster more of an "experience" for locals and tourists alike. Protected bike lanes would help, but what's needed is a more positive pedestrian experience overall. Though they must exist, I don't know of a single family that heads downtown to regularly hang out for an afternoon. The current environment simply doesn't promote this.
Art and creativity come naturally to children. Drawings and paintings burst out spontaneously as they learn to interpret their world. However, around fifth or sixth grade, it's fairly typical for these same kids to give up because they are unable to produce images that are comparable to a photograph. As my kids enter this transitional age, I seek out anchor points to encourage them to remain tethered to their innate creativity and playfulness. Today's students endure a world of testing. Specific answers are required.
While biking the Lakewalk last week I noticed adults pedaling one way, children the other. Without exception the older commuters were headed downtown, the hub of commerce. Kids raced east...
How many times per day are you checking your email? Facebook? Hitting closer to home, do I really need to check my stats to see if additional copies of my book have sold since I last checked two hours ago? (Answer: one.) Few of us can resist the continuous stream of information available at our fingertips. Surely, this obsessive doting on screens of all shapes and sizes has a direct impact on our quality of life. If we already know this, why can't we just stop cold turkey? Because we're addicts, that's why.
Believe it or not, some of us are genuinely disappointed to see winter fade gently away without putting up a fight. However, we acknowledge that the matter is firmly out of our control, so we choose (somewhat begrudgingly) to enjoy a spring that has arrived earlier than planned. There is still much to look forward to and be thankful for. It seems to me that Mayor Don Ness' decision to bow out of the upcoming mayoral race raises similar feelings.