From the Golden Leaf to The Abiders

Throughout sun-washed May 9th, a Saturday, the good people of Minneapolis are re-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 flatscreen 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

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

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

Al Sisi is Egyptian new self-righteous caliph

American historian Richard Hofstadter explained, “a fundamental paradox of the paranoid style is the imitation of the enemy.” The Ku Klux Klan emulated the elaborate rituals and hierarchy of the Catholic Church and McCarthyism ended up emulating a Communist secretive organization. “The paranoid’s interpretation of history is in this sense distinctly personal” he added! And no one is more paranoid and taking history more personal than a dictator. Egypt has been ruled by military dictators who as they are fighting the Islamists they ended up acting like them. Continue Reading

EPA community air monitoring leaves Twin Cities gasping for breath

Webinar: Thursday 9 July 2015, 09:00 AM – 12:30 PM [Note: 8 Central Time!]


Thanks to Jim Gurley of Winona, MN, for the heads-up on this. The MPCA is predicting CODE YELLOW bad air in the Cities and Rochester for Wednesday, July 8, 2015, through Sunday. The MPCA has been rather unresponsive to communications during the last few days. Perhaps officials are gasping for breath? I can’t predict the quality of the information that will be offered in this webinar, but it might be helpful to people concerned about health threats from air pollution in their communities. Continue Reading

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

Ramadan … a personal reflection!!


The Muslim holy month of Ramadan started last week. This fasting month will be observed by millions of Muslims around the world, unless you are in China, where anti-fasting cops resort to force feeding observing Muslims in public.  The number of hours that Muslims must fast will vary based on where they live. In a country in the northern hemisphere, like Denmark, there is a whopping 22 hours of fasting time. I fear there will be some very angry Muslims over there. However, in the southern hemisphere, Argentina has the shortest fasting day with only 10 hours. Continue Reading