François Rabbath: A musician, a teacher, a gentleman with a double bass

The Benson Great Hall at the Bethel University was decked out with 11 upright basses and one piano on Tuesday night. Only ten of the basses were not actually upright but resting on their sides for most of the concert. It set a stage for double bass virtuoso François Rabbath and his son-accompanist Sylvain Rabbath on piano. The music was amazing, but even more amazing was the demonstration of admiration and love from father and son, for each other, for the music, and for the experience. They played as if they were chasing each other around a music sheet. Continue Reading

10 Motivational Quotes on Servant Leadership

Advancing social change begins with recognizing that we each have the power to serve and lead. According to Robert Greenleaf, who coined the term servant leadership, this exercise of power “[…] begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.” Our challenge is to tap into this transformative power and leverage it to promote the betterment of society. This type of leadership is essential for addressing the social justice challenges of our time. For instance, according to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, every hour 50 young women are infected with HIV/AIDS. Continue Reading

Video: The Future of Southwest Light Rail

Among our regional elected’s, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin remains one of the strongest voices for an up-to-date public transit system in the Twin Cities metro area. McLaughlin chairs The Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority and the Counties Transportation Improvement Board. The HCRRA has committed to fund 10% and the CTIB, 30% of the Southwest Light Rail Transit project being planned to connect Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins, Saint Louis Park and the west lakes district of Minneapolis and the southern fringe of North Minneapolis to the Blue and Green LRT lines at Target Field. The State of Minnesota will shovel-in 10%. The plan has been to qualify for Federal Transportation Agency monies which would account for 50% of the project. Continue Reading

Selling Lingerie on the Egyptian Street

Selling Lingerie on the Egyptian Street
Cairo’s Tahrir Square is the global symbol of the January 25th Revolution, where millions of Egyptians, including women, went to demand the toppling of the regime. Lately, Tahrir Square has witnessed the courting of the Egyptian population by General Al Sisi and his propaganda machine as well as a “Million Woman March” demanding the toppling of the hijab. The history of progressive women and their struggle for independence and social freedom is an old one, starting with the Egyptian feminist and activist, Huda El Sha’arwi, founder of the Egyptian Feminist Union in 1923. Two events stand out in the history of women’s struggle in Egypt. In the Egyptian Revolution of 1919, women demonstrated side by side with men and used their hijab as a symbol of resistance to the British occupation, and again in the 1940’s and early 50’s, when small groups of radical women leftists embraced the topics of inequality and nationalism with a strong anti-imperialist bent. Continue Reading

Back in action at the Black Dog

Get in off the 294 express bus from Minneapolis and am way early for the gig at Black Dog Wine and Coffee Bar in Lowertown.  So, I take a little stroll around and am almost homesick: this part of St. Paul reminds me so much of Greenwich Village back in NYC.  Laid back, bohemian – a damn nice place to take a quiet walk.  Looking for a burger joint, happen upon the St. Paul Saints’ ballpark.  It’s beautiful.  Mainly because it’s a professional baseball field with all that electrifying atmosphere and you can actually get close up on the diamond.  I drop in at Mike Kelly’s Depot Bar & Grill.  The food and service are damned good blue-collar fare. A well-done bacon-cheeseburger, onion rings and a Coke later, I head over to the Black Dog.  It has been a hell of a long time since I had a real gig.  Not since Hell’s Kitchen about 5 years ago.  I’d done a year and a half or so at Corner Coffee in Minneapolis’ Warehouse District, but this was for pay, not tips.  Get over and Brian Charles Tischleder is roaming around, trying to do something about parking.  Haven’t seen the cat in ages.  That was another time opening for him.  Well, opening for James Curry, his duo with guitarist Casey Fearing.  Reviewed Brian’s Dreams & Fear CD for the Planet – damned good music.  We, of course, immediately start chewing the rag,  Before he has to get with his wife Ka Vang – poet/spoken word artist with whom he pulled strings to get me on the bill – he promises to see can he dig an old recording of James Curry as a four-piece band.  Would love to hear that.  Spot a poster for the show on the wall with pictures of names: am in pretty sweet company Rush Merchant headlining, Ka Vang, Lauren Koshere and Brian Charles Tischleder.  Nope, not too shabby at all.  And Saint Paul Almanac is filming.  Make a mental note to swipe that poster before the end of the night. Am doing my set, happen to catch sight in the back of the room of my man Bill Borea (a/k/a pro rassler Billy Blaze a/k/a William Borea,playwright, screen writer, director, actor).  The guy came clear over South Minneapolis. Continue Reading

Garbage action alert….

After years of controversy in Minneapolis, ending with rejection of a burning increase at the HERC garbage burner, controversy seems to be shifting to St. Paul/Ramsey County, where officials have their own incineration schemes. More below:

Washington and Ramsey counties are planning to spend over $26 million to buy a now-privately-owned garbage grinding facility in Newport, Minnesota. By making it a publicly owned facility they would be able to use “flow control” to force all the haulers in the two counties to bring their garbage there. An unregulated monopoly would come into being. Continue Reading

Coming up short

I’m not quite sure how the Saint Paul Public School District managed to have two years where there were 20 million dollar shortfalls in the four and a half years that I worked there but somehow it did. That’s greater than 40 percent of the time that I was employed by the district. The district likes to point out that paying staff is its biggest cost-the district says salaries account for 81 percent of its operating budget. Not too many districts cut more jobs between 2005 and 2010 than SPPS did and nearly all of those jobs were never reactivated. The jobs are gone forever. Continue Reading

General Al Sisi brings out the worst of Egyptians!

French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) said “In democracy we get the government we deserve” he was of course talking about true representative democracy that produces leaders the people want and chose. The assumption here however is that people know what is good for them and they chose freely. The French philosopher was right on one thing; leaders who run or ruin our lives brings something deep in the people they govern and rule.  What he failed to recognize is: this is not only in democracy, but in authoritative regimes as well; leaders will bring out the worst and the best of people. Western democracy brought Eisenhower, Kennedy, Bush Jr. and Obama who brought different characters of the American people. Unfortunately over the last six decades or so, Egyptians have probably ended up with dictators who tried to appeal to the best and the worst of Egyptians. Continue Reading

Community Collaboration helps increase Battle Creek family involvement almost 20%

A new, more collaborative approach has increased family participation in spring conferences held at Battle Creek Middle School in St. Paul. This April, our Spring Conference turnout had a 7% increase from last year and a 19% increase from two years ago. Many programs shared information about opportunities to develop new skills, improve academically and stay physically active during the summer. Continue Reading