Abebe Lemlem is an ideas guy.
Here's one: People ought to work 25 hours a week, down from the current 40, cutting the eight-hour workday down to five hours. That way, Lemlem says, we can all use the extra three hours a day "learning how to protect planet Earth."
People sometimes look at him strangely when he utters this kind of "outside of the box" thinking, but Lemlem, a 56-year-old Uber driver who lives in Minneapolis, is sincere.
"Technology is taking over people's jobs, and replacing them with robots," Lemlem says. "What are people supposed to do? We should fight for a 25-hour week, and spend the rest of the time building sustainability."
Here's another idea: Let's all get together and build the biggest damn snowman you've ever seen.
That one's Lemlem's, too. And he's taking steps to make it happen. But Lemlem needs help, and to that end, he has posted signs inviting anyone interested to meet him at Palmer's Bar in Cedar-Riverside at 3 p.m. this Friday, for a "brainstorm" session to discuss bringing his big plan to life.
Lemlem wants to erect a 70-foot-tall, 30-feet-around snowman in the park next to the Brian Coyle Center, and says he's already solicited area businesses for financial backing. That much snow would require renting snow-making machines -- unless, "God willing, nature willing," Minneapolis is suddenly hit with an enormous snowfall -- and a snow-person of those dimensions would require a large internal structure to keep it up.
Lemlem is also hoping to get clearance (and possibly assistance) from the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board, though he admits he's not much of a writer, and hopes someone else can pitch in on that front.
"At this point, I need talented people, energetic people, to join me in this," Lemlem says.
If things come together quickly, he thinks the snowman could be built before Christmas, though more realistically he hopes to see it in early 2018.
Though having a giant snowman in town will be "fun," Lemlem says the big guy will also be there to send a message about climate change.
"The campaign is, let's keep the snowman alive for the next generation. We need to keep planet Earth cooler, so the snowman can exist forever."
About this concept, Lemlem says the only responses he's gotten are, "That's awesome." City Pages agrees completely, and, frankly, between this and the 25-hour-a-week thing, are pretty interested to hear what other ideas Lemlem's got for us.