Poking Around in the real world usually starts with learning frontiers in my immediate neighborhood, Northeast Minneapolis, or places in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area that are reachable by public transit. While others rush by I poke around by foot and by bus or light rail transit. There’s no end of things to see and hear and learn. On a good day I just hop off the bus and check out a neighborhood or a building or a park. I’m not so much into museums as into the treasures that are overlooked. Same goes with people.
In the digital world my favorite frontier is access to public information and to the public institutions, especially libraries and librarians, that rise to the challenge of enhancing access to public information. When you get through the endless discussion of “pipes” and get to the hard core of live information, it’s a fascinating information frontier. Though the technology may be 21st Century, the tools of the trade of librarianship has passed down through the centuries. And the more information there is, and the more people who need the information, the more those tools become indispensable.
Do you want to apply for retirement benefits? Check your bank balance? Talk back to the TV? Look for a job? Help your kid with her homework? Keep up with the news?MORE »
Residents of Northeast Minneapolis are extraordinarily proud that the American Craft Council has chosen to establish its permanent home in the neighborhood, at the old Grainbelt Brewery at 1224 Marshall. This week Northeast shares the treasure with the nation and beyond as the ACC hosts its major Midwest show featuring more than 200 of the country’s finest contemporary jewelry, clothing, furniture and home decor artists. The Show is April 19-21 at St. Paul River Center.MORE »
Around 10:00 on a clear May morning in 2008, two black helicopters circled over Postville, Iowa, a torn of two square miles and fewer than 3,000 residents. Then a line of S.U.V.’s drove past Postville’s main street and its worn brick storefronts. More than 10 white buses with darkened windows and the words “Homeland Security” on their sides were on their way to the other side of town. Postville’s four-man police force had no forewarning of what was about to happen. Neither did the mayor. Maggie Jones, “Postville, Iowa, Is Up for Grabs,” New York Times, July 15, 2012
It was a poster from the Kittleson Collection on exhibit in the Minneapolis Central Library Hosmer Collection that spurred my reflections. The World War II-era posters depicts a loving mom and daughter, their gentle exchange as they plant their Victory Garden, the little girl‘s optimism as they work together to support the War effort. Peaceful, full of life and hope.MORE »
When the hour came we lived up to our promise ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
More open doors to learning – and endless armchair meanderings – from Special Collections at the Minneapolis Central Library. I know because I have been lost for far too long now in the digital collection of Minneapolis City Directories, now accessible online covering the years 1858-1917. The collection is accessible remotely, free of charge, no library card necessary.MORE »
The first essential component of social justice is adequate food for all mankind. Food is the moral right of all who are born into this world.” -Norman Borlaug
It’s eight years now since the first Sunshine Week, celebrated this week, March 10-March16. Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote discussion about the importance of freedom of information and open government. The week was chosen to coincide with the birthday of James Madison (more about the Mr. Madison later). At the national level the prime mover behind Sunshine Week was the American Society of News Editors, later joined by The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.MORE »
In recent months readers of Poking Around have quietly endured my efforts to grasp the anomaly of hunger in a world of plenty – the struggle to connect the dots between world hunger and overproduction, to get a grip on the politics that tolerate hungry families in our community, to comprehend what it means to embrace the right to food as a human right. Because my predisposition is to view every issue through the prism of open government, my mind wants to create a holistic approach to thinking about hunger in lay terms. Flailing in an unfamiliar world of ambiguity and complexity, my only tool is a structured approach to gathering and organizing information till it makes sense.MORE »
Historians, scholars, intellectually curious Minneapolitans take note. In the spirit of openness the James K. Hosmer Hosmer Collection at the Minneapolis Central Library, has announced that The Times Morgue, the lynchpin historical record of the city, has not been dead, but only sleeping. The Times Morgue file which the Library acquired from the Star Tribune Company many years ago, is now accessible to the public again.MORE »