Liberian VP visits Minneapolis, appeals for extended immigration status for Liberians here

Liberian Vice President Joseph Boakai visited to Minneapolis on June 17, bringing attention to the plight of 270,000 Liberian Americans living in the United States and the potential for a mass deportation that could occur after September 30 if President Obama doesn’t extend the Deferred Enforced Departure status of Liberians.Liberians have been coming to the United States since a violent military coup overthrew President William Tolbert in 1980, followed by two civil wars. President Charles Taylor was ousted in 2004 and now faces war crimes charges at the Hague.  Democratically elected President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf visited Minnesota in 2009 where she also brought attention to the plight of Liberian nationals living here.  Boakai emphasized that even though Liberia is no longer at war, the economy is fragile and the infrastructure has been destroyed after two civil wars. “Monrovia, before the war, had a population of 350,000. Continue Reading

American Indian Arts Festival this weekend in Minneapolis

The American Indian Arts Festival, to be held June 11 and 12 on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis, will be the first of its kind in Minnesota. Artists, musicians and dancers from not just the Midwest but as far away as Alaska and the Navajo southwest will show that Native American culture and arts are continuously evolving with the times.President and CEO Justin Huenemann of the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) says the artists this weekend will challenge preconceived notions of what it means to be Native.  “Most people think of powwows, but we have classical guitarists, hip-hop and native blues bands.  Part of this is to push the idea of what is artistry and that includes the art as well, but it may not be Indians riding a horse or a painting of a buffalo.”The Franklin Avenue Corridor between Cedar and 35W has made a transformation of sorts in the past few years, thanks in part to the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) and their revitalization projects on a section of Franklin Ave called the American Indian Cultural Corridor, stretching from Cedar to 11th Avenue Ave S. NACDI is an alliance of American Indian non-profits and  businesses in the metro area, and the Franklin Avenue corridor features newly remodeled buildings including a coffee shop, art gallery and an American Indian owned bank called the Woodlands National Bank. Unveiled only a week ago, the Institute is celebrating the positive changes on this stretch of road that was a run-down, neglected and dangerous neighborhood in the 1990s.The festival grounds is located at a grassy area the size of a football field next to the American Indian Center at 1530 Franklin Ave in Minneapolis. Continue Reading

Hmong community meets with Dayton/Legislative candidates

The economy and education were the two main issues raised at a forum for the Hmong community held on the east side of St. Paul October 9 with gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton. Hosted by the Hmong American Partnership and sponsored by Take Action Minnesota, the forum drew nearly 200 people from the Hmong community to hear Dayton’s responses to questions and concerns raised by members of the audience. Zer Vang, an American-born Hmong resident of St. Paul’s east side, wanted to know if Dayton would support a state-wide implementation of Hmong history taught in the public schools. Continue Reading

Chalchiutlicue environmental summit in St. Paul, Minneapolis

Ce Tempoxcalli, a non-profit organization working towards cultural development and environmentalism in the Latino community will host the sixth annual Chalchiutlicue Environmental Project Summit and Ceremony on the weekend of May 21-23. The summit will take place Friday at the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Center/Neighborhood House in St. Paul, with a ceremony and feast on Saturday at Powderhorn Park and a fiesta and feast on Sunday at Fort Snelling State Park. 

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CSA Fair is a big hit in Minneapolis

Thirty-three CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa convened at the Seward Coop in Minneapolis April 24 in search of new members and customers. CSAs generally offer an arrangement of advance payment or volunteering in exchange for a weekly bag of groceries produced and distributed by a farm. Members of a CSA buy a share that can cost anywhere from a hundred dollars to a thousand for the duration of the season. How long the season lasts depends on what is being produced. When someone joins a CSA, they reap the rewards of an unusually good season as well as the loss if unforeseen circumstances such as a drought or flood affect a crop. Continue Reading

Organics recycling grows in the Minneapolis Public Schools

Minneapolis Public Schools has added organic waste composting to its district wide recycling program. Starting last Monday, Edison High School in Northeast Minneapolis began composting all uneaten food and many paper products. The school already has a non-organics recycling program in place which includes paper, plastic, glass and aluminum. Edison High has a partnership with Americorps. In addition to after school-tutoring programs, Americorps volunteers have helped launch a relationship with the MPS (Minneapolis Public Schools) Goes Green campaign; a result of a February ’09 resolution by the Board of Education stating the district’s commitment to environmental sustainability. 

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Driver’s license bill for undocumented workers

About 30 activists gathered at the Waite House Community Center in Minneapolis on February 25  to strategize ways to move forward with a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license.  Mujeros En Liderazgo (Women in Leadership), an organization dedicated to social and immigration issues, organized the meeting. Only a handful of states have passed similar laws, while a larger number require proof of immigration status to be presented by drivers license applicants.  Maria Cisneros emphasized the problems that lack of a driver’s license can create. “If a child gets sick, and they don’t have access to the emergency room or they can’t get a job, this is a loss to the economy,” she said. “Someone who is affected by domestic violence may not report to the police because they don’t have a driver’s license or I.D. This affects single mothers and their children, from not being able to take children to the doctor or to get to work to support their children.” Fellow Mujeres En Liderazgo activist and Waite House employee Jovita Morales added that the most vulnerable can be exploited if they don’t have an I.D.  She cited the example of trying to rent an apartment without a driver’s license. Continue Reading