***Speech embargoed until 6 pm on 6/21/2023***
Welcome to the Sixth Annual Wedge LIVE Cat Tour. I am hyperlocal journalist, podcaster, and cat tour guide John Edwards.
You may have heard earlier today that the mayor temporarily renamed Minneapolis to Cat-tour-apolis. What an honor. I’d also like to express thanks to Metro Transit who have agreed to continue their regularly scheduled bus service to and from the Wedge so everyone has a ride home.
We’re about to take a 2 mile walk around the neighborhood in order to look at some cats. They will be in windows, on porches, and in other spots nobody could have predicted. Many of these cats are pre-registered and expecting us. Some of them have no idea we’re coming and will take us by surprise.
Please take care crossing the street and look out for each other’s safety. This is a very large crowd, which is bound to alarm some neighbors. When the police are inevitably called, do your best to not look like an expression of free speech. The DOJ has documented many cases where that has not gone well.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge what makes a day like today possible. And it’s not the cats.
It’s all of you — this wonderful community, the more than 20,000 people who live in the Wedge and Whittier neighborhoods. With so many places we can gather together every day in groups large and small.
It’s the sidewalks and streets that brought us here safe and sound — whether we walked, bused, biked, or drove.
It’s the many shapes, sizes, and proximity of homes and windows that house both cats and their human companions.
It’s the many businesses that make it possible for us to spontaneously decide we’re going to get something to eat with friends after this tour is over — just by walking 5 minutes in any direction.
In closing, please take note that this is an election year in Minneapolis. The way our neighborhoods look, whether they are safe and affordable, whether they have businesses and services that meet our daily needs, whether they provide safe and convenient transportation for everyone, whether they have spaces to to move and gather with each other — all of these very local circumstances that affect our health and happiness don’t happen by accident.
After we’re done today, please go learn the names of your council member, your mayor, your county commissioner. Ask them to invest in people and places, the street infrastructure, transportation options, housing and zoning that can make our neighborhoods better places to live.
Thank you all for coming. Now let’s go look at some cats.