Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

An unlikely solution to the Minnesota government shutdown July 5, 2011

MY EXTENDED FAMILY likes to have fun, so we plotted this weekend to overthrow the Minnesota state government. Not to worry. We are all talk and no action.

But we definitely have ideas about who could run the state given the current legislature and governor can’t seem to handle the task of agreeing on a budget. That would be us. (Yes, the general feeling was a definite frustration with the current state government shutdown.)

Therefore, in a discussion that spiraled into hilarity, we overthrew the governor and put all of our people in place, most of us choosing to head up a state department based on our interests and experiences.

We also agreed that one of our first subversive, defiant acts would be to clamber onto the golden horses atop the state Capitol.

The golden horses and chariot atop the Minnesota State Capitol.

I’m heading up communications, a job I’m uncertain I can handle because I’ve been instructed to deliver only a positive spin on every bit of state government news.

The educators in the family were appointed to the Department of Education, the daycare provider to the Department of Health and Human Services. My eldest brother, by age default, became the new governor.

The outdoor-loving summer parks worker now manages the Department of Natural Resources. He’s always wanted to hunt alligators, so he’s bringing alligators to Minnesota.

Then the newly-appointed finance director, a family member pursuing an accounting degree, suggested that rather than return the alligators to Florida in the winter, we move them into the sewer system. We readily embraced that idea.

We didn’t debate the cost of an alligator hunting license.

But there may have been an unspoken agreement to lock current Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and the legislators in a room with a contingent of angry, jaw-snapping alligators Minnesotans.

DISCLAIMER: The above story represents my version of the family political discussion and may not be representative of all family members. However, I am the Director of Communications here at Minnesota Prairie Roots. Therefore I am free to spin this story however I wish.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

This is what it means to be free

FOR THE PAST SEVERAL days, I’ve kept my eyes peeled for the perfect July Fourth image.

I thought that photo might come from my extended family’s annual July 4th weekend gathering or from the Roberds Lake Independence Day boat parade. Or perhaps I’d just see a patriotic display worthy of showcasing. Maybe a field of flags.

However, the photo I selected to best portray our nation’s birthday falls into none of these categories.

I chose this image, taken along Seventh Street in Faribault late Monday afternoon.

Let me explain.

This homeowner disagrees with a recent decision by the Faribault City Council to forgive a $72,000 water bill assessed to FWF Fund One, current owners of the Faribault Woolen Mills property. The woolen mill closed some time ago, leaving an original $120,000 unpaid water bill, which has since been paid down $48,000. Now new investors are working on purchasing the property and restarting the mill, thus prompting the request to forgive the remaining portion of the unpaid water bill. Read more about the issue by clicking onto this recent Faribault Daily News article.

Even though I happen to agree with the homeowner, I didn’t choose this as my favorite Independence Day photo for that reason.

This grassroots expression of an opinion represents to me the cornerstone of our nation: freedom.

As citizens of the United States, we are free to speak—to voice our ideas and opinions and concerns.

We needn’t be eloquent speakers or writers or members of city councils to express ourselves.

A simple handwritten sign posted on a tree along a busy street epitomizes freedom at its most basic, individual, level.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling