After more than 30 arrests, Steve Clemens honored with Peace and Justice Award

CORRECTED 10/17 (see below) | Arrests might not seem like a badge of honor to most people, but Steve Clemens noted that he had been arrested with at least ten previous honorees of the Vincent L. Hawkinson Foundation for Peace and Justice.  The Hawkinson Foundation’s annual award is given to individuals who have made a long and significant contribution to the cause of peace and social justice.  More than 120 people came to honor Clemens and five young scholars for their peace and justice work on Sunday, October 14, at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Roseville.“This award is an encouragement to keep on doing this work, not to sit on one’s laurels,” said Clemens. “This award is a community effort rather than an individual accomplishment.”  As a peacemaker and activist for more than 35 years, Clemens has risked numerous arrests and gone to prison for his anti-war efforts.Along with many others he tried to block the White Train carrying nuclear warheads to a submarine base off the Georgia coast in 1985.  He was part of the protests of weapons manufacturer Alliant Techsystem, with arrests in 1997, 2003, and 2004. He traveled to Iraq, before the United States went to war, as part of the Iraq Peace Team and spoke to 65 groups after his trip.  He is active in the Iraq and American Reconciliation Project and traveled to Afghanistan in 2011 as part of an international peace delegation.  He is planning on returning to Iraq soon.Clemens was born in Pennsylvania of Mennonite heritage. Continue Reading

Francis Basket food shelf reopens in St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood

Almaz Zeru works part-time three days a week at a pizza parlor.  She is a survivor of the ravages of war in Eritrea and has made dramatic life/cultural changes coming to Minnesota.  She has used Francis Basket food shelf in Highland Park for three years.

“I get minimum wage and when I get a better job I won’t need to use food assistance,” said Zeru, a single mom of two children.  

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Tamales y Bicicletas celebrates in south Minneapolis on Sunday

“Civic engagement makes for healthy communities,” said Jose Luis Villaseñor, founder and director of Tamales y Bicicletas. This seven-year old Latino-led organization in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis advocates for healthy communities through bicycling, eating local and organic foods, cultural empowerment and environmental justice.  The group’s Urban Solution to Pollution festival began as a small class of Latino youth learning about environmental justice and bike mechanics skills through the Tamales y Bicicletas organization. On July 22, Latino youth from the Phillips neighborhood will train the public about growing their own food and present a Dream Act deferred action workshop.  The festival  at the East Phillips Community Center will offer free bike maintenance, music, food, public health trainings, voter registration, and a bike raffle from 1 to 4 p.m. A kick-off for a critical-mass bike ride for environmental justice will meet at the corner of 17th Avenue  and 24th Street at 11:55 a.m. “Since September ‘11 there has been a lot of anti-immigrant sentiment,” said Villaseñor. “People think we only talk about immigration but our communities are experiencing obesity, diabetes, and asthma where there was none before.”“Housing is affordable next to busy highways or industrial parks but 71 per cent of urban Latinos are red-lined next to busy intersections or polluted industrial areas,” said Villaseñor. Continue Reading

Teens get hands-on business experience at Youth Express in St. Paul

“I don’t think school prepares young people for work — work prepares people for work.” said Randy Treichel, enterprise director for Youth Express.  “Even if they do not go on to run a business, they have a basic understanding of how a business is run and become empowered employees.  Eighty-seven percent of our participants graduate from high school. Seventy to seventy-five percent enter post secondary education.”

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Minnesota Idea Open finalist Fatuma Mohamed proposes Hidden Pearls Project to educate Minnesotans about Muslim women

This past spring the Minnesota Idea Open, an online competition for social change, had asked the public for suggestions on their Challenge III question, “What is the best idea to build bonds and work together across cultures and faiths here in your community?” The Minnesota Community Foundation, which created MIO three years ago, believes that our state has become very diverse in cultures and faiths and that we need to build relationships with people across individual differences.Over 600 people had sent in suggestions to the online contest. An eight–judge panel of media professionals, community and faith leaders narrowed down the winning ideas. Five finalists will receive grant awards of $15,000 or $5,000. The public gets to determine the best idea by watching five short videos of the finalists and then vote May 15-25. “We’ll announce the winning ideas around May 30,” said Kari Ruth, a representative from MIO. Continue Reading

New art center for White Bear Lake

“We are wanting to break ground this September for our new arts building,” said Suzi Hudson, executive director of the White Bear Center for the Arts.  “We need ninety per cent of our funds before we start this project.”  The White Bear Center Center for the Arts has raised $1,600,000 of the $2.5 million needed for the renovation of their acquired building at 4971 Long Avenue in White Bear. They purchased the building in December 2010, after looking  for four years.  “The extra time has given us a clearer vision of what we wanted,” said Hudson.White Bear Center for the Arts, 2228 Fourth Street, White Bear Lake, MN 55110 (Telephone  651-407-0597)Minneapolis-based architect Peter Kramer has designed the renovation of Long Avenue site.  When completed the 10,000 square foot building will have a gallery for exhibitions and performances, outdoor walking labyrinth, community atrium, library, sculpture and rain gardens, a brick wood-fired oven, a variety of studio spaces for children, multi-use, clay and metal arts.  The campus of the building has an acre and half of pine trees and access to walking paths into a five acre protected wetlands.  “We want this space to truly to be a center for the community, but based in the arts,” said HudsonNow in their fifth decade, WBCA was originally founded in 1968 by a small group of area residents who shared a passion for the arts.  “We now offer 500 classes a year on and off site,” said Hudson, who noted that registrations for classes have tripled in the past eight years. “In 2011, WBCA served over 31,000 individuals (reaching over 5,000 children and youth) and offered over 500 art education classes, with an annual operating budget of $365,000.”The original WBCA  building, called The Armory, at 2228 Fourth Street in White Bear is outdated.  “We can’t offer the quality conditions, needed control of our space, storage for instructors,” said Hudson.  “Nor the variety of classes or accessibility that we want to offer.”WBCA offers classes for both children and adults.  Classes are in visual and literary arts, movement, culinary arts, professional development and public education lectures.Their present exhibition is the 39th Annual Northern Lights juried art exhibition that is showing from April 15 to May 11 at Century College. Continue Reading