Well done, Red Wing, with preservation decisions

Red Wing City Council and Heritage Preservation Commission deserve strong community backing for their support of keeping the 162-year-old structure in the 600 block of West Fourth Street.

In recent decades, restoration and preservation of historic architectural resources (e.g., Sheldon Theatre, 1916 Central High School Building, St. James Hotel, railway station and Levee Park, and numerous residences) has been a major factor in the growth of tourism — Red Wing’s primary growth industry — as well as community spirit and awareness.

In these days when walkability, sustainability, and affordable housing have become important considerations, such resources play an even more vital role in community viability than they once did. The greenest buildings are those that are already there.

Restoration and reuse have at last taken precedence over demolition and replacement in enlightened city planning. While nothing is forever and cities have to change to meet changing needs of their people, things that have lasted need to be honored also. Throwaway culture is becoming recognized for what it is. The old adage applies here: “In darkness dwells the people that knows its annals not.”

Winston Kaehler

Red Wing

‘This for that’ — in a word — is extortion

One of the casualties of the dumbing down of America is the stultification of speech. As people tweet more and read books less, their working vocabulary shrinks. However, there’s a subconscious longing for variety in speech because when a new word or metaphor comes along, it’s adopted ad nauseam.

Case in point. Politicians no longer change their minds. They pivot. Now everybody pivots.

The disease has even affected the sports world. Football receivers no longer go out for a long pass. They “go vertical.”

In a desperate attempt to sound smart with a depleted vocabulary we become slaves to cliche.

A more serious example is quid pro quo. This is a Latin construction that should have been picked up in casual reading by the end of high school. It means “this for that.” Now, folks flaunt it like a toddler exclaiming, “I’m four!”

Worst of all, its novelty disguises its original intent — a trade, a bargaining offer. “You can have my cow for three sheep. Deal?”

In its current context, it’s been applied to withholding military aid from a small country under attack from a giant communist regime in return for “a favor.” That’s not a trade. That’s Tony Soprano putting on the squeeze, “That’s a nice little country ya got there. Hate to see something happen to it, ya know.” In a trade, either party has the peaceful option of walking away. A better word for the Ukrainian transaction is extortion.

One of the reasons our country is susceptible to internet trolls and misinformation is that we don’t respect the idea that words count. We must protest when ubiquitous cliches are deployed as a distraction from the truth.

Dan Woll

River Falls