Southwest LRT: Conflict of Interest

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) purchased 17 acres of land across the street from the proposed Southwest LRT station at Blake Road. The land deal was brokered in 2011 for $15 million for redevelopment investment, storm water storage and Minnehaha Creek restoration. Normally the last process hurtle before shovels break the soil is a watershed district permit. Odds are the appointed MCWD Board of Managers would vote to permit SWLRT construction. When developers take over a watershed the mandate to protect the water commons is compromised. Continue Reading

Notes From America: Arab dictators should look for a second career!!

The Arab Spring in the last four years or so forced a few Arab dictators prematurely from their jobs, where they have a heck of a time handling their imposed retirements. In a democratic world, leaders usually get a job review after a few years, then once they leave office, they have to explore their options and develop different skills. Some, like President Carter, go into humanitarian work to do all the things they couldn’t do while in office. Others, like Clinton, go on a talking circuit to recoup all the money they spent on litigation while in office, or Blair, who has gone on tour like a political mercenary. Others go back to the private sector as lobbyists or consultants to make hard-earned government experience available for a price. Continue Reading

From the Golden Leaf to The Abiders

On sun-washed, Saturday May 9, the good people of Minneapolis are discovering the emerging greens and gentle breezes of spring and the soft serves at Dairy Queen. Through late afternoon, scents of lilac and freshly mowed lawn and bird song greet folks out for a neighborhood walk or a spin around their chain of lakes. I, however, am hanging out in The Golden Leaf, a tobacco and cigar sampling store on Lake Street near Bryant Avenue. I’m perched on a bar stool near a large, walk-in humidor and have a decent view of the Twins/Indians game on a flat screen TV. A helpful attendant has selected a handmade Dominican cigar for me. Continue Reading

Southwest LRT: The New/Old Plan

Southwest LRT proponents are meeting to reduce a $341 million “funding gap” to curb the $2 billion estimated cost of the most expensive public works project ever proposed in Minnesota. The rush is on. Deadline for completing a money package for federal congressional approval for this cycle of funding is August 3. NO NEW CONSENT PROCESS FOR MINNEAPOLIS: The old plan is the new plan minus one suburban station, deferring another and slashing frills like landscaping, public art and reducing suburban park-and-rides. To avoid triggering another contentious consent process in Minneapolis the under-populated stations at 21st Street and Penn Avenue must remain. Continue Reading

Why is FLOW Northside Arts Crawl Important?

In anticipation of the 10th Anniversary FLOW Northside Arts Crawl, FLOW’s artist liaison, Farrington Llewellyn asked three North Minneapolis artists, Why is FLOW important to you? Kenna Camara Cottman: Why FLOW Is Important from North MPLS. Watch Kenna also speak about FLOW 2015. Ms. Naima: Keep Flowing from North MPLS. Elder Naima Richmond, poet, storyteller, author, has more to say about FLOW. Continue Reading

Celebrating the Eid at the Mall of America

Ramadan, the glorious fasting month for Muslims has finally come to an end, no more Iftar under the big tent at Marina restaurant, no more California Majoul dates to break the long day fast, and no more evening conversation while sipping tea and munching sweets Katife, Konafah. It is like 30 days of Christmas has just vanished before your eyes. Now it is time for Eid el Fitr, (the breaking fast feast) a Muslim celebration of food and what is good in life, a realization that life goes on even after Ramadan. You have been for 30 days cleansing your body and your soul of all excessiveness of life. Now it is time for Muslims in America to go out and unapologetically celebrate the end of Ramadan Eid in post 9/11 America: this is not as simple as it seems.

The Eid celebration starts by rushing to the convention center in downtown Minneapolis; where thousands of Muslims–mostly Somalis–walk in groove dressed in traditional clothes: they are heading for early Eid Prayer. Continue Reading

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Of Voice and Vermin: Talking with Writer Tim Wick

One of the things that has always impressed me about Minnesota is its vibrant literary community and its ability to make space for so many unique and distinctive voices. One of my favorites is writer Tim Wick, who is the artistic director of Fearless Comedy Productions. Over the years, Tim has produced several successful shows at the Minnesota Fringe festival including “The Complete Works of William Shatner (abridged)” and “Story Time Time Bomb.” He has written comedy sketches for CONvergence and is a podcaster and blogger. You can find many examples of his writing at petsnakereggie.com. One thing that I particularly respect about Tim’s work is his philosophy of theater production. “You shouldn’t be producing theatre if you are afraid to take risks,” he says. “By taking risks, we grow as artists. Continue Reading

Community network in Phillips advances practices in youth literacy

In the past two years, youth educators, after-school mentors, youth literacy specialists and librarians have teamed up across Phillips to share tested best practices, years of research, resources, opportunities and more, with a vision to enhance out-of-school-time literacy programming through grassroots connection. As the facilitator of the emerging group, I have witnessed as the partnership, called the Phillips Literacy Network (PLN), has developed through more than ten gatherings of the eleven participating organizations. In addition to the inherent value of growing community connection, PLN has also contributed to capacity development across the unique programs of its active members. Librarians at Franklin Library extended the reach of the opportunities they offer by sharing informational materials at meetings and strategically identifying alignment with the schedules of after-schools in Phillips, whose youth will now be exposed to the enriching activities of the Teen Tech Lab, Franklin’s 4H club, and their Young Achievers program. A youth literacy specialist at the U of M shared her years of expertise on effective literacy practices, versed literacy coordinators at different after-schools on the five components of literacy, and provided the group with classroom-ready, easy-to-implement comprehension activities. Continue Reading

Students and educators work together for progress at the Capitol

Dual credit was a popular education topic in this year’s session, for both K12 and higher education. Encouraged by both educators and students, such as Chala Tafesa, the Minnesota Legislature made significant positive changes to dual credit. Dual credit refers to programs where high school students can take college-level courses for free, earning credit for both high school and college. It is a great way to help students be motivated to finish high school, be better prepared for postsecondary, and to save precious tuition dollars and time. More info on dual credit and research available here. Continue Reading