Hopes and fears for the next four years

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In the final days of 2008, just a few weeks before Barack Obama prepared to be inaugurated as the nation’s 44th president, Journal reporters interviewed people throughout Southwest and Downtown to gather their thoughts about the future.

Ted Murphy

Murphy, 44, is a CARAG resident, father and stock trader. He was pulling his 3-year-old daughter around Uptown on a sled during a recent snowy day. He paused at the corner of Hennepin & Lake to share his thoughts on the next four years.

  (I hope) that this nation has a chance to reclaim some of its respect around the world. It’s been a rough millennium you might say. It’s been a rough eight years. …

  I’ve traveled a lot overseas and I know there was a time when you pulled out your passport and people would point to you and mumble in a positive way, and the last eight years it’s been a case of, ‘Oh, you’re a bloody yank.’

  More personally, (I hope) that my daughter has a chance to go to a school that can put her in a position to be competitive down the road. And me, I don’t like to play the lottery, but I’d like to hit it. I guess you’ve got to be in it to win it.

  Fears: That we don’t take this opportunity and goodwill that the nation feels after the election of (President-elect Barack) Obama, that we don’t take advantage of it and try to build better race relations in house. That would be a fear, something we might squander.

  That Norm Coleman’s going to end up back in Washington.

  Right now I’m actually leaving (stock trading). I took some hits myself, trading. So instead of losing 1,000 bucks a week, I’d like to make 1,000 bucks a week. When I didn’t have my daughter, I wasn’t so worried about, you know, make 10 grand, lose 10 grand. Now I’d rather kind of have a 9-to-5 steady (job) and trade on the side.

Jill Brennick

Brennick, 39, is an East Isles resident, part-time nonprofit employee and stay-at-home mom. She was shoveling the sidewalk in front the home she and her husband bought about a year ago when they decided to stop renting. 

  My hopes are for an improvement in the economy, to get through the recession.

  And along with that improve foreign relations and hopefully create better ties internationally and get friendships back that we lost, and also an improvement in women’s reproductive health.

  There seems to be some issues with increased crime, even in this neighborhood. Kind of some flow maybe from the other side of Hennepin, so trying to address those issues … just overall improvement in the economy here and decrease in crime.

  And for myself, I don’t know, find a good kindergarten for my daughters. Make the right decision.

  (I fear) that the economy is just going to get worse and crime is going to go up.

  My biggest fear is more people losing their jobs. I think it’s really sad. I think it’s tragic to see the number of jobs that have been lost.

  I’m lucky, knock on wood, that we are financially secure and happy in our neighborhood, so I don’t really feel any personal fears.

  I hope the housing market improves and we don’t lose the value of our house.

Robbie Nichols

Nichols, 19, is an art-history student at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, who was in town for the holidays. He was walking through Uptown with friends.

  I hope Norm Coleman loses the recount.

  And to graduate in four years and then get into graduate school somewhere. And then get an internship at the Tate (Gallery of Modern Art).

  (I fear) that I won’t have enough money to pay for college, and that I’ll get bad grades and stuff, and that my whole life will suck. Or I’ll get a tattoo that I don’t want, maybe.

David Petersen

Petersen, 34, one of three young artists who own and operate Art of This Gallery, 3506 Nicollet Ave. S., spent the end of 2008 on an artistic residency in Dresden, Germany. He wrote about his hopes and fears for the next four years in an e-mail.

  While most art spaces and organizations are struggling due to the current economic crisis and the fallout of much private and public funding, I am optimistic (knock on wood) about the next four years (although I feel a little guilty about this positive outlook with so many other art spaces closing or shedding jobs).

  At Art of This, I see only one direction for our space to go, as we have been on the proverbial bottom rung ever since our beginning.

  We are terribly privileged to be running a space at all, but having done so for the past three-plus years, now, I am fairly confident we can keep it going at least through the end of our lease in June 2010 (knock on wood). (I am a little superstitious, too.)

  Despite the economic climate, I share in what I feel is an enthusiasm and energy amongst artists, and I hope this sustains itself — or us artists are able to sustain it — for the next four years.

  I also have an 18-month-old daughter and she is a powerful motivation to keep doing what I’m doing. My hopes and fears orbit her, and I hope that when she is turning 5 that I have provided as much for her as I can. That includes growing up in a vibrant and creative way, with opportunities that I didn’t have as a kid.

  Of course, I know she will eventually do the complete opposite of what I hope she’ll do. But for the time being, I like to imagine that she will enjoy running an art space with her dad, hanging out with other artists and experiencing art in a unique city.

Jeremy Hanson

Hanson, 35, is a senior policy aide and spokesman for Mayor R.T. Rybak. The feelings flowing from the Nov. 4 election of Barack Obama are positive, he says, positive at a time when positive is highly needed.

  I pick up the newspaper every day or I turn on the computer, and all I hear about is the negative state that the economy is in. There’s a lot of anxiety about the current economic state.

  But I see a lot of optimism that people, for the first time in a long time, that they can have an effect on the outcome of the future. That, I think, is really the big change that Obama’s victory  has helped to bring about. People feel empowered again to be a part of something bigger."

  It’s pretty clear that Minnesota is falling behind, that it has not really embraced a green economy. It’s done better than any other state at health care but certainly doesn’t have the whole solution.

  Minnesota has historically been the kind of state that people look to lead on issues like these, and I think this is going to be a test — at a time when our country is undergoing a transformation — on what role Minnesota will play.

  We may be asking the same kind of questions when we reelect state leadership in two years that we just did electing national leadership.

Moses Evans

Evans owns shoeshine stands across Downtown at locations including the Soo Line building, The Westin, the TriTech Office Center and The Depot.

  My name is Moses. I’ve been Downtown ever since 1956.

  Let me tell you something. You should never worry about the economy. This is how people get messed up. They want to scare people.

  In my business, people buy shoes. They’re going to have to keep them up, [and] if they don’t keep them up, they’re just spending money. See, I’m not feeling any pressure because I’m a poor man, but I do make a living, and I trust in God to look after me. I pay my tithes and try to abide by the law. See that’s the only thing you can do. You just can’t go though this world thinking that you own something. … You don’t own anything because when you came into this world, you didn’t have nothing.

  The only thing that’s going to change this country [is] you’ve got to get rid of the corruption first. … And then you’re going to have to get someone up there like Kennedy. He just took $1 a year because he had plenty of money. … You want to get somebody in there that’s going to be for the rich man and the poor man.

  [President-elect Barack Obama is] off on a good start. The man is a brilliant man.

  The only way they’re going to get this country back like it was, they’re going to have to go to God.

  I hope to do a whole lot better with my health and everything in the next four years. … My next birthday I’ll be 79 years old, and I’m blessed and God is good. All I have to do is trust in God, [and then] I’m going to always make it.

 You’ve got to be kind. You can put that down in there. … Kindness, smile and caring, you’re going to always make it. I don’t care what anyone says. You
should just try that.

Eli Miller and Joe Anderson

Miller and Anderson are seniors at South High School. They were interviewed in Uptown at Hennepin & Lake.

  Eli: I’m doing a foreign exchange next year. I’m going to Thailand, which I’m pretty excited about. I know there’s political troubles over there, and I hope they’ll be resolved by the time I’m able to go over … I wanted something to look forward to at the end of high school, just kind of figure out what I want to do. I think going there is really going to help me find out who I am.

  Joe: I’m getting my generals done at MCTC before I graduate. I want to go to the U for a while and then maybe transfer to somewhere in New York. I’m not exactly sure what I want to do. Maybe business. I’m not sure yet.

I can’t wait to learn something I’m more interested in. (In college) you can pick and choose. I’ll feel more obliged to work harder and push myself because I want to learn.

  Eli: The freedom’s a big part of it. Right now, I’m taking pre-calc. I’m never going to use pre-calc in my whole life.

 Joe: It’s horrible.

  Eli: In college, I can take what I want to take.

  Joe: You have the choice.

  Joe: Leaving home is a little bit scary, the thought of moving away and living on your own. That’s the thing I’m most worried about. And having to manage responsibilities once you go out on your own. I’m saving up money.

  Eli: The biggest fear of mine is the pressure of needing to find something that you’re going to do for the rest of your life. I know that’s kind of the norm, that’s what you’re supposed to do, but it’s not what people do, they jump around from thing to thing.

I’m looking at Thailand right now and that’s as far as I’m looking. I know my views are going to be completely changed when I come back. Then I was thinking New York City.

 Joe: Yeah, New York.

 Eli: Just having an apartment and a job as a waiter, going to college.

 Joe: Yeah, yeah. I would put myself in New York or London or France. One of the three.

 Eli: The big full-scale city atmosphere, I love it. That or Montreal. I really like Montreal.

 Joe: I was born in New York City. Lived there for the first three years of my life. I love the place. The big city. It’s good to be there.

I can’t wait to get back.

* This project was inspired by a special report in the Winona Daily News published in early 2005. Share your hopes and fears for the next four years with us and we will post them at our blog, the "Compost." Send your thoughts to Journal editor Sarah McKenzie at [email protected]