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McCollum, Ellison cosponsor resolution calling for end to conversion therapy

Reps. Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison are cosponsors of a resolution in the U.S. House that calls on states to ban conversion therapy for minors. The Stop Harming Our Kids Resolution was introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California. McCollum and Ellison are among 34 co-sponsors of the resolution.The SHOK resolution states, in part:It is the sense of Congress that sexual orientation and gender identity or expression change efforts directed at minors are discredited and ineffective, have no legitimate therapeutic purpose, and are dangerous and harmful.Congress encourages each State to take steps to protect minors from efforts that promote or promise to change sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, based on the premise that homosexuality is a mental illness or developmental disorder that can or should be cured.“It’s time to end this abusive quackery masquerading as medicine,” Speier said in statement. “Being transgender, gay, lesbian, or bisexual is not a disease to be cured or a mental illness that requires treatment. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Documentary film hires north Minneapolis youth to challenge dominant narratives

In September of 2013, I joined the Community Technology Empowerment Project AmeriCorps, or CTEP (“C-tep”) for short. I’ve spent the last year promoting digital access and literacy with my cohort of 30-some fellow AmeriCorps members throughout the Twin Cities. That’s where I met Adja Gildersleve. Adja has a vision. She is, among other things, a documentarist, and wants to engage our local communities in dialogue about issues she’s passionate about, like racial and social equity, empowerment of community voices, and digital literacy. She had been dreaming up this particular project for a while, and has been so excited to make it into a reality. Continue Reading

Crystal Ruiz, host of Capri Theater's Freedom of Xpression Open Mic

Capri Theater’s Open Mic offers a lab for performance talent in North Minneapolis

The young woman sauntered onto the stage, cracked a half smile then pulled the mike almost to her lips.  The lights dimmed, music piped in and the spotlight turned onto her.   The smoky voice that emerged from this girl was surprising as was the melody.  Here on the Capri Theater stage in North Minneapolis, an African American girl was singing a jazz song popularized by Billie Holiday, an American cultural icon of the 1940s.  The audience of about 50 young students, teens and middle aged folks hooted and howled encouragement when this aspiring singer ended her rendition.  She glowed with a big smile, waved, and bounded off into the wings. This performance is typical of the monthly Open Mic sessions at the Capri Theater.  Held on the first Monday evening, Freedom of Xpression (FOX) provides a free platform for emerging and amateur artists to test and hone their art form.  Anyone who wishes an audience for her creative expressions has five minutes to unleash that talent at Capri’s FOX Open Mic.  Poets, rappers, dancers, singers, musicians have come on stage to get a no-risk and free opportunity to share their craft with a diverse audience.  Any art form is allowed and the range of expressions is wide.   Immediately following a hip-hop poet, a Hmong student played the queej (traditional pan flute) and danced to rousing audience approval at a recent FOX Open Mic.FULL DISCLOSURE: Lee-Hoon Benson works for PCYC.  Poet Crystal “Azteca” Ruiz has hosted the Capri’s FOX Open Mic since late 2009. This emcee role is a natural outgrowth from Ruiz’s regular job as a student advisor at the alternative high school run by Plymouth Christian Youth Center (PCYC). Hosting the monthly FOX Open Mic also allows Ruiz to publicly share her creative impulses.  Soft-spoken yet firm, Ruiz is passionate about giving young people a chance to develop their talents and test their alter egos on stage.  Ruiz encourages the high school students at PCYC to perform at FOX Open Mic.  She especially reaches out to female students.  Many high schoolers have taken up Ruiz’s offer; some for the first time, but many reprising or honing their earlier FOX Open Mic performances.   Since its inception more than five years ago, FOX Open Mic has drawn performers mainly from neighborhoods that surround the Capri Theater.  Many North Minneapolis performance groups have tested and refined their material here.  One such group is the “Why So Serious” hip-hop collective of North Minneapolis.  Collective member, Marquis “Eddiecane” Harris, said performing more than a dozen times at Capri’s FOX Open Mic gave them the exposure they needed.  “Why So Serious” has produced several albums since 2010. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | The Brian Coyle Center Brotherhood Program: empowering young Somali men to lead and inspire

On the 19th of August 2013, 11 young men who grew up in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of the West Bank in Minneapolis, and who completed high school this year, will have an opportunity to travel to Atlanta, Georgia. This opportunity was realized through the Brotherhood Program at the Cedar Riverside-based Brian Coyle Community Center. The Brotherhood Program emphasizes the need to be inspired, to educate and to be empowered to do better for oneself and community.I am an out-of-school educator and advocate with the Brian Coyle Community Center of Pillsbury United Communities (PUC). I have several roles within the community center: I supervise teens who are employed with our agency during the summer, help tutor in the fall, mentor kids aged 6-18 in our youth program, and I am one of the leads for the Brotherhood Program. In the Cedar-Riverside community, which is home to a large base of African immigrants — mostly Somalis — young men and women are constantly challenged by exaggerated tales of their community being drug infested and violent. Continue Reading

The red srore catches your eye as you drive by.

NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES | Venture North: A favorite Harrison destination for bikers and coffee lovers

Looking for a great destination within a short bike ride of downtown Minneapolis? Head down Glenwood Avenue and in about 10 minutes you will find a bright red building with a mural on the side. As you walk into the cozy shop you will hear the beats coming from vintage records; then your eye drifts over to the left and you find the coffee bar, where among your options are a cold smoothie, hot tea, or the pour over, which is a cup of coffee made one cup at a time just for you. Then you see the bikes for sale, and now you know you are in one cool place.Venture North has a unique position in North Minneapolis; it is one of the few coffee shops on this side of the city, where bike repair and sale businesses are even more rare and they tie it all together with a youth empowerment service. The youth programs are the heart of Venture North: the staff take in youth and train them as bicycle mechanics and toss in some sales and customer relation skills as well.The empowerment programs and classes include the following: All About Bikes is the bike mechanic apprenticeship program for youth ages 15-23; Pedal Power is a special program for girls ages 10-12; Earn a Bike is a safety and basic repair school for ages 6-12, and upon completion of the program the youth get to keep the bike they fixed. Continue Reading

OUR STORIES | Sheeko: Documenting Somali youth diaspora stories

Fartun Abdi is passionate about preserving her generation’s oral histories. Abdi is a member of and researcher with the Sheeko Project, which started in 2011 to document and digitize oral stories of Somali diaspora youth. The project is a collaboration between the University of Minnesota’s Immigration History Research Center (IHRC), campus faculty, staff, and students.“What does it mean to be Somali? Somali American? Somali diasporan? Continue Reading

OUR STORIES | Young Ethiopian American founds soccer org, gives back to Ethiopia

Mikyas Woldemichael is a 22-year-old Ethiopian American who isn’t afraid to follow his dreams. The University of Minnesota student is the founder of Ra’ey Youth Soccer Organization, which support kids in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in training and improving their soccer skills.He started Ra’ey, which stands for “better vision” in Amharic, a year ago when he went to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to volunteer for Ethiopia Reads. His goal with Ra’ey is to help kids who live in poverty by getting them physically active, involved in their community, and focused on academics. “I don’t want them just hanging out on the street all day and night,” he said. It all started when Woldemichael observed how passionate the youth in his neighborhood, Haya Kilo, were about soccer. But they lacked the resources to properly train and play. All they had – as most children in Ethiopia do – were makeshift soccer balls made of plastic bags handstuffed with scraps of paper and cloth, he said.“I had some soccer balls I gave them. So they asked if I could give them money to buy them matching shirts. Continue Reading

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FREE SPEECH ZONE | Farview Hmong Soccer Players Help Sanneh Foundation at Gala 4 Goals Fundraiser

Farview soccer players with Tony Sanneh, at Gala 4 Goals fundraiserOn February 2, Farview Hmong soccer players went to support the Sanneh Foundation’s Gala 4 Goals fundraiser.The Hmong soccer players went on stage to let others know how the Sanneh Foundation has helped their players and  team. Talking in front of hundreds of people at Gala 4 Goals Fundraiser10 Year old Jee Vue had to stand on a chair to reach the microphone.  She said:“My name is Jee Vue.  We play soccer for Farview Park in North Minneapolis.  We are Hmong refugees,were born in Thailand, and are still learning English.  Our families are very poor.  The Sanneh Foundation donated soccer shoes to half our soccer players.  We loved coming to the Sanneh soccer camps this summer.  With the Sanneh Foundation’s help, we won two city championships last year and  two more championships this year.  Thank you Sanneh Foundation.”Trying new foodsThe Farview soccer players also had the chance to sample new foods they couldn’t pronounce, such as Gorganzola cheese and Portabello mushrooms.Good job, girls!The Sanneh Foundation’s Gala for Goals was held at the Depot in downtown Minneapolis.  Farview Park is located in North Minneapolis.Last summer, over 50 soccer players participated in the Sanneh soccer camp at Farview ParkSanneh soccer camp at Farview ParkGet the ball away from Tony Sanneh!Having fun at Sanneh soccer campThe Sanneh Foundation donated soccer shoes to half the Farview soccer playersFree Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. The opinions expressed in the Free Speech Zone and Neighborhood Notes, as well as the opinions of bloggers, are their own and not necessarily the opinion of the TC Daily Planet. Continue Reading