Letters - December 2023

How about a shoveling contest?
Last winter may have been the worst winter for ice that I’d seen in all my 63 years. I often found it challenging to walk on the sidewalks, even when homeowners tried to keep up with the shoveling. My “drop-toe” disability on my right side didn’t help. But one day, I had an experience that got me thinking.
I was walking down Lake St., from 31st Ave. to 37th Ave. I stepped carefully around the icy spots and clambered over piles of snow at the intersections. When I got to Soderberg’s at 33rd Ave….Ahhhhh!!! (angels singing). There was no snow or ice anywhere on their sidewalk. It was totally clear. Not a flake. Someone had put forth a lot of effort to clear that sidewalk and keep it clear. What a boon to their customers, employees and neighbors.
Seeing what the people at Soderberg’s had done got me thinking about how the City Council has been discussing having the city workers shovel our sidewalks. My comment to them is, thank you for your consideration, but we don’t need you. Go ahead and set up a program to help disabled and elderly people, that would be very beneficial, but most of us can take care of our sidewalks ourselves. 
I’ve noticed that some of us good Minneapolitans have gotten a little slack in our dedication to keeping our sidewalks clear, so I would like to challenge our various neighborhood groups (LCC, NENA, etc.) to start sidewalk shoveling contests in their neighborhoods. 
Each neighborhood can set up their contest the way that they want, but here’s what I suggest. The neighborhood group would set up an email address for the contest. Whenever anyone notices that someone has shoveled their sidewalk really well, that person would send an email to the “shoveling” email address telling the street address of the nicely shoveled sidewalk. At the end of each week, there would be a random drawing of all the entrants for the week and the winner would receive a $25 gift card to one of the neighborhood businesses and a window sticker. At the end of the winter, all the entrants would be entered in a random drawing where the winner would receive a $250 VISA gift card and the Golden Shovel Award (metal sign celebrating their achievement) to display in their yard. The prizes need to be enough to incentivize people to shovel and using gift cards from neighborhood businesses would encourage businesses to donate to the cause. 
One extension of this idea could be that businesses have a separate contest. Another idea might be for entire blocks to work together for a prize. There could also be a “Shovel for Our Neighbor in Need” program.
Getting something like this up and running can take some effort and money, but I’m sure it would be less than the cost for the city to take over all the shoveling. Also, I believe this is just the type of community involvement for which neighborhood councils were designed. What do you think community councils? Are you up for it?
Thank you,
Nancy Schauff


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