The following letter-to-the-editor from author Louise Erdrich was published in the August 28, 2014 edition of the StarTribune.


What is Minneapolis prepared to lose?

According to the U.S. News and World Report, our city has one of the most extraordinary and extensive park systems in the world. I decided to move here in 1992 when I stood on the north side of Cedar Lake in a place left intentionally wild. It was dusk. The air was quiet. I looked at a vibrant city skyline as it began to glow. There is no other city like this, I thought. And I was right.

I found out that I was standing in a planned ecosystem that extended from Lake Nokomis to Theodore Wirth Park and beyond. Astonishingly, you could actually swim and fish in spring-fed Cedar Lake. That our City Council is voting this week on a light-rail transit route that would bisect this precious asset makes no sense. The route underserves our people, overserves Eden Prairie, and, in forever changing the character of our wildest lake perhaps changes the character of who we are, and what Minneapolis stands for. We are not spendthrifts; maintaining our infrastructure means jobs. We don’t dole out equity at the last minute to try cleaning up a project that should offer first-class service to the those who need it most. Real equity is about having fantastic transportation where the people are. Real community is about keeping our lush trails and lake clean and open to all. Not a shovel of earth has yet been dug on this project. Mayor Betsy Hodges and members of the City Council, you can still make this city’s transcendent relationship with nature your legacy.

Louise Erdrich, Minneapolis