What’s In A Name

Joe Doakes from Como Park writes:

Asian businesses along University Avenue, seeing their livelihood destroyed by Light Rail, came up with a marketing plan for their neighborhood. They’ll call it “Little Mekong” after the famous river in Southeast Asia that runs through many of the residents homelands: Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and China.

Makes perfect sense to me.  “Frogtown” predates the Asian influence in the neighborhood by a solid 100 years.  They have pretty much redefined the area.  More power to ’em, I say!

Not everybody likes the plan.

“Irna Landrum, executive director of the Summit-University Planning Council, said it makes sense to have a strong identity around each of the light rail stations. But she said Frogtown already has one.

“I’m not immediately convinced it has to be this big cultural branding. People know where Frogtown is. You know there’s a lot of natural curiosity for people who don’t live in these communities about what these strong community names mean,” Landrum said.”

I’m not sure that the curiosity about “Frogtown” goes much beyond “why is it called Frogtown?”, and I live here.  (Answer;  Maybe it was frogs in the long-gone swamps.  Maybe it was the French settlers.  We may never know).

No matter.  As it was, it shall be evermore!


The Summit-University Planning Council got left out and they’re miffed. I wonder why they were left out?

Could it be because they are most city planner types who support light rail and urban renewal, living on grants and government handouts while spreading their gaze over such a large and diverse area as University Avenue and Summit Avenue that they can’t get anything useful done?

So local business people step up and do it themselves.

And get criticized for it.

Welcome to St. Paul.

Joe Doakes

Como Park

That’s part of it.

The other part?  Community councils in Saint Paul have tended to draw the kind of people who love to exert petty, passive-aggressive power over others.  The Summit-University council seems to do little but fuss and phumpher over things like names and numbers in zoning formulas, and while they create little of value, they certainly destroy much.


5 thoughts on “What’s In A Name

  1. The only thing “frog” about Frogtown is the leapfrogging rail line construction apparently designed to prevent the derailing of its construction. Seeing what the Asian community has done to revitalize a long stretch of University Avenue WITHOUT the guiding hand of some council, I would say it already is Little Mekong. Kind of reminds me of the bank that courts you AFTER you get rich.

  2. Branding themselves as “Little Mekong” demonstrates the resiliency and entreprenuerial spirit of the area – even after the Central Corridor went all Agent Orange on them. They may have come up with a way to get people to actually get off the train in that area rather than passing through. Of course, personal initiative makes big gov types nervous and if Little Mekong starts to “unfairly” prosper ahead of its neighbors look for another bureaucratic carpet bombing to head their way.

  3. I like the name Little Mekong. Its a geographic name instead of a race/ethnicity name, so is much more inclusive. It focuses on the businesses, not the people, so will make it more inviting.

  4. Community councils in Saint Paul have tended to draw the kind of people who love to exert petty, passive-aggressive power over others.

    The urban equivalent of HOA’s. Petty insecurity ridden tyrrants, all of ’em.

  5. Summit-University Planning Council like the Met Council need to be put out of business.

    Seems to me for a large part it’s their neighborhood, get the hell out of their way and let them have some chance to prosper!!

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