Letters to the editor: June 24

Going green before its time By 1930, the depression had hit hard. Over 25 percent of the work force was unemployed. Wages dropped drastically. The desperate administration expounded that prosperity was just around the corner. My father had seen p...

Going green before its time

By 1930, the depression had hit hard. Over 25 percent of the work force was unemployed. Wages dropped drastically.

The desperate administration expounded that prosperity was just around the corner. My father had seen privation in the Old Country and would not wait. At the very time when farm population slumped, we became farmers. Strangely, this had always been dad's first love, watching seedling sprout and bloom gloriously, however, we kept our home in Duluth as back-up.

Forty acres were purchased in Normana Township, whose forest provided timber for a tiny house, the ubiquitous sauna and a genuine log cabin, all of which still stands; now a summer retreat where that child of five is now writing these very words almost eighty years later.

We achieved a degree of self-sufficiency for several years that approached totality. Father always experimented with seed variation and crop rotation. Nothing escaped his curiosity.


Mother, ever busy, canned and dried a beautiful larder sufficient for the harshest winter. Self-sacrificing, her devotion was notably to her church.

My family joined me in this venture, and sons vow to extend this fidelity to the simpler life.

Strangely, this tribute to the past has sparked a new vogue that counters our society of conspicuous consumption. The wholesome food that we ate then are the models of revised nutrition and simplification marks the new lifestyle. The past becomes the present.

I do not gloss over the darker aspects of life; in our little sphere they did not resonate. As the larger world loomed, then one could take a stand, drawing out the principle stimulated by that earlier life.

Our far-sighted founders left this great heritage where one can chart one's own destiny, even against the grain. That's America and that is why we are here.

Paul Lampi Sr.


A smoke-free Minnesota


When Gov. Pawlenty signed the Freedom to Breathe Act of 2007, it ended 32 years of waiting to extend smoke-free workplace protections under the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act (MCIAA) to all Minnesota workers.

While an overwhelming majority of Minnesotans supported the law, public and legislative debate was vigorous and passionate. The bill was heard in 19 committees and over 100 amendments were offered throughout its legislative journey.

In the end, the process worked to produce a strong law that is fair and understandable to the public and business owners and that will be easily enforced.

Some smoke-free opponents will continue debating the law right up to and after its effective date on Oct. 1. Fortunately, the experience of smoke-free communities and states across the country help separate fact from fiction and fear.

Lives will be saved, Minnesotans' health will improve and the hospitality industry will adapt and survive in a smoke-free Minnesota.

As we transition towards smoke-free, we must not lose sight of why we passed the Freedom to Breathe Act.

The health impacts of secondhand smoke have been well documented by the nation's leading researchers and health organizations for the last two decades. Because they are exposed to four to six times more secondhand smoke than others, bar and restaurant workers bear the brunt of these health impacts.

They are 50 percent more likely to develop lung cancer, are at greater risk for heart disease and suffer the day-to-day symptoms and illnesses from their elevated exposure to secondhand smoke.


Eliminating secondhand smoke in bars and restaurants will improve workers long and short-term health and benefit patrons as well. In California, it took only two months for bartenders to report fewer nasal irritations, breathing problems and coughing spells. Recent studies point to fewer heart attacks after smoke-free laws because they eliminate even the brief exposure that can trigger a heart attack.

Smoke-free debates often focus on the false choice between the health benefits of smoke-free laws and an economically healthy hospitality industry. Change can be hard and those fears are understandable. Fortunately, sales and revenue data from smoke-free communities and states show these laws do not change the economic fortunes of the hospitality industry.

By providing additional time and creating a level playing field across the state, the Freedom to Breathe Act is sensitive to business owners' concerns.

Now that the legislative session has ended, work has already begun to ensure a smooth and successful transition to a smoke-free business climate. The Minnesota Department of Health and public health organizations around the state are committed to working with communities, businesses and individuals to implement the new law.

Additionally, based on the experience of other states, we know that going smoke-free will prompt some smokers to consider quitting. Through proceeds from the tobacco settlement, Minnesota is fortunate enough to have free help available to any smoker who wants help through QUITPLAN Services. Resources are available for individuals and employers looking for help by calling 1-888-354-PLAN.

As we move beyond the Legislature's smoke-free debate, we can be reassured by the positive experiences of smoke-free states like Maine and New York. I, for one, am looking forward to clearing the air on Oct. 1.

Sen. Kathy Sheran



'I don't know you'

One day you hear a knock at your front door. You open your door and find a stranger standing there. You say: "Can I help you?" The stranger says to you: "Can I come in?" You say: "Who are you?" The stranger says: "I am an American, let me in!" You say: "I'm sorry, I don't know you -- you can't come in," and you shut your door.

You certainly don't want someone in your house that you don't know just because they say that they are an "American." Bad things could happen if you're not prudent about whom you let into your house. Conversely, you do let other "Americans" into your home because you know them and trust them from your personal relationships with them. Makes sense, wouldn't you agree?

You are a "Christian." Are you really? Does God know you? Does Jesus Christ our lord and savior know you? Do you really know Him? You say that you're a "Christian" and a "good person," but are you absolutely certain you are going to heaven? Would you care to stake your eternal residency on it?

In the Bible, Jesus said: "There is more than enough room in my father's home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?"

Jesus reminds us in the Bible of those who will plead: "...Lord, open the door for us!" But he will reply, "I don't know you...."

More than anything, Jesus desires for each one of us to get to know him in a personal and intimate relationship. Those are not idle words to simply ignore. Your salvation in his eyes, along with an intimate personal relationship with him (Jesus), is your guaranteed passport to eternal paradise.

Sadly, many so-called "Christians," who are "good people," will have fooled themselves into thinking that they will go to heaven, only to find themselves in hell forever.


What will Jesus say to you when your day comes and you ask if you can come into his house? Will he let you in, or will he say "I don't know you"?

Lee Koerber, Chaplain

Midwest Christian Network

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