Beam Me Up, Scottie


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Assignment 14: Persona

Meet Bill Grimm, retired industrial painter, who lives at the end of Harry-Davis Lane which terminates just past Hall Park in the Near North Neighborhood of zip code 55411, a sprawling northwest neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Like 39 percent of his neighbors in this urban, Grimm, 68, has lived in his two bedroom, one bath home on a quarter acre lot for more than 20 years. The houses in this section of Ward 5 tend to be solid, older and built before 1939. In what Grimm terms "gentrified circles", they call his home a "city bungalow."

He and his wife, Alice, raised three daughters here. The girls, grown now live in other Ward 5 neighborhoods of the same zip code. That's typical of the residents. Many are third generation homeowners and more than 60 percent of the homes are owned rather than rented. When he was working, Bill made "good money" because he was in the union. Now that he is retired, that union pension helps him live comfortably with twice the average income of his fellow senior citizens. They live on an average of $31,500 a year.

When Bill and Alice aren't visiting grandchildren or working in their gardens, they enjoy the neighborhood street parties. Alice makes the best cheese pies and fried ravoli and she's always on the look out for new recipies. That's why the couple subscribes to the Sunday paper only. There are recipes along with money saving coupons. Retired and conservative in their spending, Bill and Alice like the "tried" and "true." The are brand loyal. They don't experiment much.

However, Bill saw how the use of computers improved productivity on the job site where he was a supervisor, and he bought a computer. It's a DELL DIMENSION, circa 2000 with Windows ME and Internet Explorer 6 and AOL. He has enjoyed keeping up with friends who've retired and moved South. He's also discovered a few sites for researching his fly fishing interests and Alice has found a few good home and garden sites. But Bill is not an adventurer. He jokes that his response to a "Midlife Crisis" way back when was putting a luggage rack on his mini-van.

He needs to see how things work and find value in them before trying them. Bill stopped subscribing to the daily newspaper and rarely checks the TwinCities Web site after a redesign left him bewildered as to where to find his favorite column on fly fishing.

He's not opposed to new things, but they have to make sense. He doesn't mind the changes in Ward 5 that are bringing young, hardworking people to his neighborhood. Bill understands that these young professionals bring new life to his beloved city.

Gary Larsons

One of the young professionals who finds value in The Near North neighborhood is Gary Larsons, a project manager for Welch-Abbott, a small advertising firm in the heart of Minneapolis. Gary works with words and ideas all day. Therefore, he likes thinking abstractly and is willing to learn about any new idea.

After finishing his communications program at Northwestern University, Gary married a fellow student and Minneapolis native. They moved to her home neighborhood as quickly as they could find work. Gary enjoys the clean air, the parks, where he's likely to be found running, the lakes where he sails and he loves ice skating.

The Near North neighborhood appealed because of its amenities -- proximity to the center of the city, the older homes on graceful lanes and a canopy of trees. He and his wife, Jennifer, live on Plymouth Avenue -- literally across from Bill and Alice. But their interests and work schedules make them neighbors in passing. Gary represents the new neighbors moving into Bill and Alice's neighborhood. Now, more than half the neighborhood is made up of young, professionals of African American and Hispanic origins. The African American population tends to be college educated, with higher incomes than the rest of their neighbors. Gary makes about $48,000 a year.

Gary is among the young professionals moving into Ward 5, snapping up the low cost sturdy homes, pouring sweat equity into remodeling them, while retaining the area's charm. Because he'd rather be outdoors and not in stores, Gary prefers to shop on line, and he's accustomed to navigating the Web. He runs Windows XP on one of his laptops -- Microsoft Office 2003 -- he hates 2007!

On his MAC he edits a newsletter and maintains a small video production suite with Final Cut Pro.

Gary gave up Twincities because he found it "clunky" and outdated. He would go back if the content were more to his interests and more in depth. He can read national headlines on any site and he's not too concerned with Minneapolis-St. Paul sports.

1 comment:

Andria said...

These actually sound like my neighbors, though my neighborhood is circa 1950.
Most of the "originals" are gone now, but we have a couple of folks who arrived in the early '60s. And they mix well with the newcomers at block parties.

Computer Interface