A Tale of Two Trips

Steve and Sophie Kelley at Pizza Nea

When I contacted Steve Kelley’s campaign director to arrange a meeting with Steve and Sophie Kelley, I suggested Tuesday.  She responded that they had arranged their schedule to meet me on Wednesday.  When I read her response, the part that I saw was, “They had arranged their schedule to meet with you at Pizza Nea, 306 Hennepin Ave…”  The part that I missed was, “…Wednesday at 7.”

Monday evening I prepared some questions for them, and Tuesday morning I headed for work prepared to drive down to Minneapolis from Shoreview.  I had printed my map and directions so I would have no trouble finding them.  I parked my car and fed the meter, and cursed that I only had enough quarters for one hour.  I hoped that would give me enough time to eat a quick dinner and have a nice conversation with a gubernatorial candidate.

I chose a table and the server brought water and menus for three.  I sat and waited.  I waited some more.  At 7:30, I decided to order an antipasto and started wondering whether I had the date wrong.  I cursed that I didn’t have a blackberry or phone with internet access, because I wanted to check my email to see whether I had indeed made a mistake.  At 8:00 I asked for my bill, having consumed a very tasty Polpette Napolitano and a glass of Moose Drool.  The server brought my tab and asked about my “Kelley for Governor” t-shirt (left over from 2006.)  I explained that he was the one I had planned to have dinner with.

“Oh, Rachael called to make the reservations for tomorrow night.”

I felt a bit foolish, but you must understand that I would not have been angry with Steve and Sophie for “standing me up.”  The polpette were delicious, as was the ale.  So I headed home and made plans for meeting with him on Wednesday night.  I did resolve to bring more quarters with me the next night.  I also made a note to try the Pizza Con Uovo from the menu.

On Wednesday when I arrived at Pizza Nea, Steve Kelley was waiting for me at the same table I where I had sat waiting for him on the previous night.  I told him what had happened the night before, even though the server who had waited my table the night before was not working and I could have kept my folly a secret.  He actually apologized to me. I have always liked Steve, and this is just another reason.

Center for Science, Technology and Public Policy
Center for Science, Technology and Public Policy

Steve Kelley is currently teaching at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs, and is the Director of the Center for Science, Technology and Public Policy.  When I asked him about what he was doing there, he lit up, very excited to talk about the way the Center is working to engage the public’s interest in science and public policy through the arts.

Innovation 2008 was a big event at the Center for Science, Technology and Public Policy, co-hosted by Sciencedebate2008.  Here is the description of the conference:

This conference was held on the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota. It brought together academicians, policy makers, business leaders, scientists, educators, artists, students and the public to discuss solutions to the major challenges facing the United States revolving around science and technology policy, including innovation, energy security and sustainability, health sciences policy, and our ongoing economic competitiveness in a high-tech, highly-educated global marketplace.The goal of Innovation 2008 was to bring scientists together with policymakers and the public, to help move the United States toward policies that are better informed by scientific realities, and to help scientists, engineers and the scientific community as a whole become more engaged in the political process.The conference also explored ways to bridge the divide between science and the broader culture as a way to broaden public appreciation of science.

Here we lead into the topic of broadening the public appreciation of science.  So how is that done?  Bring in the arts and literature!  For the conference, Steve and his colleagues engaged artists, scientists and public policy makers to present their techniques for drawing audiences into the world of science.  Here is a video from the Keynote Event, and astute observers will recognize Lawrence Krauss, Eugenie Scott, Sheril Kirshenbaum and Chris Mooney at the front table.  These are but a few of the presenters at Innovation 2008.  Steve also made note of frequent Quiche Moraine contributor Lynn Fellman.

Regarding literature, Kelley explained to me that he uses Steven Johnson’s book The Ghost Map as a teaching tool in his class. The story is that the cholera outbreaks in London were blamed on “bad air.”  The science of germ theory had yet to be developed, and so in dealing with ways to confine the cholera epidemics the City of London tried many policy changes and engineering design efforts to steer the “bad air” from the populace.  Cholera returned several times because the efforts to contain the disease actually contributed to its spread.

One brave investigator, Dr. John Snow, determined to find the source of the outbreak (and unconvinced of the “miasma” theory of the spread of cholera), made careful records of the locations and counts of the people who contracted and died from the disease.  Through the map, he and Henry Whitehead were able to track the source of the outbreak to a common well.  From that, he was able to determine that cholera bred in water.  Snow’s persistence in presenting the evidence to a skeptical city leadership eventually led to the use of detective work and science to end the cycle of deadly cholera outbreaks in London.

Steve uses the book to illustrate the importance of working the results of research into the formulation of policy.  This has important implications for education, especially in a time of economic uncertainty.  If Minnesota and the United States are to figure out how to build our way out of this mess, we need an educated populace who understand the process of scientific education.

We agreed that the economic question of funding education must be seen as a societal  benefit and the perception that funding education is solely about an individual’s development is misleading.  If I need services from a business, from a store, from a hospital or even from my government, I want to know that the provider understands what he or she is doing for me.  A drop in the level of education in our communities is dangerous for everyone involved.

Sophie Kelley joined in the conversation regarding education and business.  Sophie is the Chair of the Board of Directors for MEDA, the Minnesota Economic Development Association. Here is their mission:

Founded in 1971, the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA) provides assistance to businesses owned and managed by entrepreneurs of color. Unique among economic development organizations, MEDA’s services are directed toward new and existing businesses whose owners are committed to making an impact through:

  • job creation
  • their firms’ growth and profitability
  • community involvement

MEDA’s portfolio includes management and technical assistance, one-on-one consulting, business planning, sales development, loan packaging and financing, training, networking and procurement opportunities.

Sophie was until recently the CEO of Anchor Bank and is excited about new opportunities opening up for her. As we were talking about this, the pizzas arrived.

More on our dinner next week at Quiche Moraine.

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2 Responses to “A Tale of Two Trips”

  1. April 27th, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Norm says:

    I don’t know Steve that well, but will be taking his “Science and State” class this fall at the Humphrey. While I think he will probably play on his green credentials in his campaign, I am curious as to how else he plans to distinguish himself in an already crowded Democratic field.

  2. April 28th, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    Mike Haubrich says:

    There are quite a few hopefuls, and the main things that Steve will need to work on is getting some grassroots activist support. It will come down to who has the most delegates for the convention, and then to who is able to raise the most funds for the primary. Considering that Dayt0n will most likely skip the whole convention thing and go straight for the primary….

    It looks to be an interesting year and a half. There will be more on Kelley for next Monday.

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