Extreme couponing, Minnesota-style

Due to the current nasty recession, everyone is looking to save an extra buck here and there. Some people are making a sport out of it through a phenomenon known as extreme couponing, in which consumers buy almost every product solely using coupons. Becky Schack, a currently unemployed mother from White Bear Lake, is a super-shopper who saves a lot of money with coupons.”When I generally go shopping I have a coupon for everything I’ve bought,” she said. “Usually what happens is when they see me with my big clutch of coupons, they look annoyed, but when the cashier finishes scanning them and gets my new total people are usually impressed. Like, ‘Wow that’s a lot of money!'”Schack estimates that so far this year, she has saved about $530.”I’ve done it for quite a few years,” Schack said. Continue Reading

THEATER | Ballet of the Dolls’s “Nutcracker (Not So) Suite” is eye-opening, but uneven

Ballet of the Dolls is offering a strange and somewhat kinky twist on a holiday favorite, The Nutcracker, featuring Barbie, Ken, and a whole lot of sparkle and sequins. 
Although the production drags a bit, it’s worth considering if the premise appeals to you. Ballet of the Dolls has been putting on The Nutcracker (Not So) Suite since 1993. This year, the production is dedicated to Barbie’s 50th birthday. The Nutcracker (Not So) Suite is nothing like the original Nutcracker. For example, Marie (Stephanie Karr-Smith),  the main character, is a little girl played by an adult. Her doll is not a nutcracker, but a Barbie (Zhauna Franks), and she dreams of being with Ken (Michael deLeon). Continue Reading

Back to school: Harder when you’re homeless

As another school year begins, some kids are filled with nervous anticipation or dragged by their parents kicking and screaming to the bus stop, but others are worried about where they are going to sleep tonight. In the past year, the Twin Cities public school system has seen an increase in homeless students, due to housing foreclosures, evictions, and the recession. Out of approximately 71,000 kids attending public school in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, an estimated 7,445 are homeless, according to the latest available data from the 2008-09 school year. Becky Hicks, homeless liaison for Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS), said these numbers “change everyday” and are hard to track because homeless students frequently move in and out of the district. The district doesn’t have drop-out statistics for homeless students, since enrollment records are kept only within each district and it is impossible to tell which kids have moved and which kids have stopped going to school. Continue Reading

John Poupart: Work on strengthening American Indian communities honored by McKnight Foundation

“Our oral history defines who we are. Our language comes from the Creator as a gift to us as a people, and we are the original people of the Western Hemisphere. We have an oral history maintained by the language,” says John Poupart of West Saint Paul, president of the American Indian Policy Center and facilitator for the Dakota-Ojibwe Language Revitalization Alliance (DOLRA), one of the few statewide indigenous language revival efforts in the United States. He has worked there since 1994.   On Thursday, August 27, at a special ceremony in Minneapolis, John Poupart will receive the McKnight Foundation’s Virginia McKnight Binger Award in Human Service, along with five other nominees . Continue Reading

We are the village: Help kids go back to school

A new school year is just around the corner and stores are buzzing with the back to school sales. While buying new supplies is an exciting time for many students, hundreds of low-income youth will start this school year without the tools they need. This year’s tough economy is making it especially difficult for Twin Cities families to afford the supplies needed for their kids to succeed in school and continue their education. The public school systems in St. Paul and Minneapolis are depending on outside donations and supply drives to prepare less fortunate students with the supplies they need to learn this school year. Continue Reading

Celebrations of Life award for “professional protester” from White Bear Lake

“I call myself a professional protester,” said Mary Vaughan of White Bear Lake, and the 76-year-old has a record to prove it. After retiring at the age of 62, the former nun, educator, missionary, volunteer, “prisoner of conscience” and author has dedicated her life to peaceful protest against social and political injustice. Vaughan is an active member of the SOA Watch, an activism group committed to overcoming social and economic injustice, especially “oppressive U.S. foreign policy” with a focus on the School of the Americas at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. Members of the group travel to Fort Benning each November to protest at the grounds of the SOA, an institution believed to teach torture and other violent military tactics to their students for use in Latin America. During her career as a peace activist and SOA Watch member, Vaughan has been arrested four times for criminal trespassing. Continue Reading

“Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther” at Walker Art Center June 5

“In the past, we died for free. From here on, we’re going to make our death expensive.” This threat made by the controversial Black Panther member, Eldridge Cleaver, is the premise for director Wiliam Klein’s 1970 documentary, Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther. Set in a time of political and racial turmoil of the late 1960s, the film centers around Cleaver’s politically charged exile into regions of Algeria and Northern Africa. Here, Cleaver is documented as a doomed cultural missionary promoting his vision of a revolt against “Babylon,” his title for the United States. Where to see the film
Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther is showing at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis on June 5 as part of the program In and Out of Fashion: The Films of William Klein.. Continue Reading