< US City Wants Woman to Clean up Rock Art
By Gregory Stachel
02 December 2023

Iris Logan was having a hard time growing grass at her home in St. Paul, Minnesota. So, she covered the space with stones, statues, and other art.

More than 30 years later, it is something of a local landmark. But to a city inspector, it is a problem.

Logan, who is 70, has been told to clean up the different objects, like wood and large rocks, noted after a recent inspection, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, a local newspaper reported. The City Council will look at the issue on December 6.

In this undated photo provided by the City of St. Paul, Minnesota, the front exterior of Iris Logan's home is pictured. (City of St. Paul, Minnesota via AP)
In this undated photo provided by the City of St. Paul, Minnesota, the front exterior of Iris Logan's home is pictured. (City of St. Paul, Minnesota via AP)

Logan said the city's actions forced her to create the art in the first place. She said city workers who were fixing the road dug so deep around one of her trees that its roots were open to the air. So, she brought in dirt, planted flowers, and added stones – and just kept adding.

Logan said that if she likes a rock, she will try to bring it home. "I'm a rock lover," the former farmer from Mississippi added.

Logan recently received written notice that a city official will suggest to the City Council that she be given until December 22 to clean things up. She wrote six pages of note by hand to appeal the order. The stones do not enter the street or block city vehicles, Logan wrote to answer one of the inspector's concerns.

"I just want to make a stand for the next person," Logan said.

Casey Rodriguez is a spokeswoman for the St. Paul Department of Safety and Inspections. She said about 16 other properties on the same street also received letters advising them to remove objects blocking the street to agree with city laws.

She said in an email to the Pioneer Press that large roads, called boulevards, should be clear of objects that can block access to power and water lines. She added that it also keeps the tree roots clear and provides a place for snow in the winter.

Justin Lewandowski is a community organizer who lives near Logan. He said that 150 people signed their support on a petition "in just a few hours." He is hopeful that the city will soon clear up their rules.

"The quick support from our neighbors has been a clear signal of how much this art means to our community," Lewandowski said. He said it is not just about how it looks; it is about their identity and how they work with each other and with city policy.

I'm Gregory Stachel.

The Associated Press reported this story. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

landmark n. an object or structure on land that is easy to see and recognize

notice n. information that tells you or warns you about something that is going to happen

access n. a way of getting near, at, or to something or someone

petition n. a written document that people sign to show that they want a person or organization to do or change something

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