Twin Cities libraries provide more than homework help

At a small table between stacks of paperbacks and beneath an enormous map of the world in Minneapolis’ Franklin Library, fifth grader Bintou Dibba concentrates on her homework for the next day. Homework Hub volunteer tutor Peg Hoff, newly semi-retired from 34 years as an educator with the Burnsville School District, leans in to help Dibba with questions about story problems and long division.

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St. Paul and St. Thomas: Good neighbors make good neighbors

Families, retirees and houses full of energetic students have lived side by side on the St. Paul streets surrounding the University of St. Thomas for more than a century. Neighbor relations are often contentious – colored by a history of loud, late night student parties broken up by the St. Paul police responding to resident calls. This year, both a neighborhood block leader and the school hope that extending a warm welcome will prove good neighbors make good neighbors. 

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REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK: Homework, libraries and computers

Students, parents, librarians, teachers – what is the place for homework in the library? Do you use library computers or books or both? Does your library have enough of both, or do you wait in line? What time of day and what day of the week do you need library time? Are there too many students in the library making too much noise? Continue Reading

Crop Mob delivers for Cornercopia

Rain water dripped off ponchos and smiling faces Saturday morning, June 12, as 27 Crop Mob volunteers made their way inside the “greenhouse building” on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul Campus. Many had a thick layer of mud on their pants, shoes and hands from kneeling to plant the last of nearly 1,500 tomato, onion and shallot seedlings for the organic, student-run Cornercopia farm. 

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Planting common ground in Little Earth

Generations of Little Earth’s Native American residents have been cut off from healthy eating and fresh produce by history, education, economics and a major highway. Now, they are returning to the land to regain cultural traditions and remedy shortened life expectancy and epidemics of diabetes, asthma and other diet-related illnesses. In the last year alone, the urban farm at Little Earth has gone from concept to reality with the knowledge and support of two environmental and food justice organizations: WEI and Milwaukee-based Growing Power. To read more about Little Earth’s urban farm project see Jennifer Thomsen’s article, Common Ground, in Refuge, a magazine produced by journalism students at the University of Minnesota. Continue Reading

Is it Possible to Stop the Yellow Pages?

While unpacking three years ago, I realized, sadly, that I had moved approximately 10 pounds of smudgy Yellow Pages from Chicago to Minneapolis. But I just felt bad tossing them out – such a waste. 
I got over it immediately when 10 new pounds showed up at my front door here. Year after year the only time I look in, look at or look for the Yellow Pages is when I replace them with the new ones. So I jumped at the chance to find out if there was some way to stop them from coming all together.  

Let your fingers do the walking
Here are the numbers that should work to opt out of receiving the Yellow Pages – at least from these three companies. Continue Reading

Free-range, organic Christmas trees?

Everything is going green these days and holiday decorations are no exception. This year the Minnesota Christmas Tree Association is touting the slogan, “Go Green, Get Real” – meaning that choosing a real tree over a plastic one is more earth friendly. One small shop in South Minneapolis is taking it to a whole new level. The Urban Earth Co-op, a struggling flower and garden shop at West 36th Street and Bryant Avenue South is offering “organic, free-range” trees. 
The free-range trees are balsam firs that were cut during two trips to the northern Minnesota, Pine Island land of co-op board member and author Jeff Forester. On the first trip, Forester and his wife Allison removed about 70 trees. Continue Reading

Students challenge misrepresentation of minorities in media

“How can we have a productive dialogue without being provoked first?” asked journalism student Lolla Mohammed Nur during a discussion on the misrepresentation of minorities in the media at the University of Minnesota’s Coffman Union November 16. A panel of journalists, activists and educators spoke before fielding questions, like Nur’s, from a crowd of about 100 students and local residents. The event was part of a week of related activities aimed at responding to current patterns and attitudes in the mainstream media, and to a column by Ross Anderson that appeared in the Minnesota Daily, the award-winning campus newspaper.Anderson’s comments about Muslims, East Africans and sexism in America were widely viewed as provocative and derogatory. Students, alumni, and faculty made their opinions known by posting extended, detailed comments on the Daily website refuting claims made in the column and by writing letters to the editor, which appeared online and in the printed pages.Several members of Monday night’s audience made comments about the column during the question and answer session of the event. Continue Reading

Bike Walk Central Corridor Action Plan nearly complete

St. Paul residents got another look at the Bike Walk Central Corridor Action Plan when the current draft was informally re-released on October 6. They have had since the spring to review draft forms but the time to make comments that could really change the document before it goes to the City Council is coming to an end. Emily Goodman, member of the Planning and Economic Development (PED) Staff Advisory Group at the City of St. Paul, said “public opinion is definitely still shaping the plan; we’re still receiving comments, and comments that we anticipate making changes based on.” Continue Reading

Aging movement and new blood at Minneapolis anti-war protest

“Get up, Get Down – There’s an anti-war movement in this town” chanted more than 300 marchers as they made their way north on Hennepin Avenue from Walker Community Library to Loring Park in the bright afternoon sunlight on October 17. The demonstration was part of a national day of action with protests in more than 40 cities against escalation of the war in Afghanistan, but the marchers advocated for a number of other causes, too. Before the march began, peakers from anti-war, veterans’, women’s, political and other organizations made their pleas to a largely graying crowd, who gathered and talked to one another on the lawn in front of the library.  As the march began, police escorts helped hundreds of chanting, cheering people cross the street and move up both northbound lanes. Traffic piled up in all directions and many drivers honked their horns and waved peace signs to support and encourage the marchers. A few marchers used comic relief to invigorate the crowd, many of whom recounted stories from years of participation in demonstrations. Continue Reading