My husband and I moved to Brooklyn Center in 1995 in order to live on the Mississippi River! We never cease to be amazed that we are living along the world's third-largest river system. We feel very fortunate to be able to enjoy the natural beauty and wildlife of our neighborhood: deer, foxes, groundhogs, turkeys, geese, ducks, swans, eagles, otters, turtles and fish.
We also appreciate the convenience of life in a first-ring suburb with easy access to a variety of shops and services, plus cultural organizations and amenities such as the diverse ethnic grocery shopping and restaurants nearby in our city and next door in Fridley, Columbia Heights and both North and Northeast Minneapolis.
We enjoy attending many cultural activities and events, and benefiting from the work of the arts community in the region. I am a board member of Mizna, a Twin Cities Arab-American arts organization, and I also am a guide at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. I enjoy writing and many other creative pursuits. I spent a lot of time in graduate school at the University of Minnesota (studying, researching and educating about journalism and mass communication, museum studies and religious studies). I also have been involved in interfaith dialogues, and supporting peace and justice work in the Twin Cities.
In Brooklyn Center, I have been an election judge since 2002 (head judge from 2006 – 2012), and recently, I joined the first cohort of the Emerging BC (Brooklyn Center) initiative for envisioning the future of our city based on social justice values.
This all requires getting out and about by car on our local roadways, highways and freeways. Entering Hwy 252 at 66th Avenue is always a disturbing experience. There are so many red-light runners in both directions on Hwy 252 that I never enter the intersection without making sure all cross-traffic has come to a stop. Sometimes drivers in the cars behind me honk in impatience but I ignore them until I am sure it is reasonably safe to cross. In this way, I have protected myself from red-light runners who surely would have crashed into me when I was making a legal crossing across Hwy 252 on a green light.
Often, I notice evidence of accidents in the form of broken glass or bits and pieces of vehicles. Occasionally I see car crashes and emergency vehicles. Once I saw that a car had been traveling north from I-94 onto Hwy 252 at such a high rate of speed that it had crashed into the car in front, whose rear was lifted up from behind by the force of the crashing vehicle so that it actually had ended up on top of half of the vehicle crashing into it from behind. A very unpleasant sight indeed!
I have never crossed Hwy 252 on foot because of these dangerous drivers, and therefore have not ridden the Hwy 252 express bus into downtown (though I took it a few times from downtown). I really pray for the safety of pedestrians at the 66th Avenue intersection, including the Metro Transit bus riders from our three Brooklyn Center neighborhoods of Evergreen Park, Firehouse Park, and Riverwood, and really at all the intersections on Hwy 252 in Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park.
But we need to do more than pray: after 27 years of dealing with this extremely unsafe traffic situation on Hwy 252, and by extension, I-94, as well as general concerns about the health and wellbeing, environment and ecology, neighborhoods and community livability, and overall equity for the people of Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park and North Minneapolis, I am interested in supporting policies that prioritize the people of our three cities.
I am working for:
(a) greatly improved safety on both Hwy 252 and I-94 through our three cities
(b) protection of human health and wellbeing of the people of our three cities, as well as
(c) protection of our special and unique environment and ecology all along the Mississippi River:
(d) protection from the fatal flaws and irreversible harms resulting from unneeded expansions of highways and freeways in our three cities;
(e) significant and meaningful enhancement of our neighborhoods and overall community livability, based on community values, and
(f) full equity for the people of our three cities, which are all majority lower income, working class, and majority People of Color cities.
I look forward to expanding our work with our neighbors and fellow stakeholders to share information and encourage public comment to improve the Hwy 252 and I-94 project so that it benefits rather than harms the people of our three communities.