Artists and writers collaborate with community development advocates at LISC’s 25th Anniversary Reception

Last night I joined a group of Saint Paul Almanac writers participating in a collaborative art project that was conducted during the “The Art of Collaboration” reception at the Minneapolis Depot Pavilion. The event opened the annual conference and celebration of the 25th anniversary of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Community development advocates from all over the nation were in attendance to celebrate their work “dedicated to helping community residents transform distressed neighborhoods into healthy and sustainable communities of choice and opportunity — good places to work, do business and raise children.” Continue Reading

What do you love about Saint Paul?

One of the things that I love about Saint Paul is its wealth of authors, poets and storytellers. As much time as I spend basking in the solitary glow of my screen, I love to break away, get out, and hear real people tell real stories and read from real books. We are so lucky here in Saint Paul. Maybe it’s something in the water…we have so many good writers and an audience that loves and supports them. Tonight was just one of 25 coming nights of literary treasure. Continue Reading

Last day of eighth grade and Spektrumdereistungengedankenundgefühle

As I sat and watched my son’s junior high class receive awards and recognition for finishing eighth grade last night, I felt a wave of feeling–I need a word here, something a compound German word might cover–that encompasses thoughts and feelings about the entirety of life and learning, our connections as families and community and the range of achievements, some quite remarkable in their simplicity. Continue Reading

A place for Dakota stories: The Bdote memory map

Some words just keep poking through no matter what you are thinking or writing about. Today the word place appeared again, as regularly as a thread passing over the warp. Dakota storyteller and media artist Mona Smith, speaking at the Minnesota Humanities Center emphasized the importance of place in her work on the Bdote Memory Map, an online multimedia project that brings together many voices and images to tell a story about the Twin Cities area–a Dakota place. Continue Reading

Beating back wicked winter, welcoming spring: American Swedish Institute’s Cocktails at the Castle

The American Swedish Institute hosted a bash last night that may have raised temperance movement activist Swan Turnblad’s eyebrow. Glasses of local beer and St. Germaine infused cocktails were raised and fires were lit in the Turnblad mansion yards. Rock music crackled into the night sky and Prince Hamlet, a Dane, roamed the house. Saints preserve us! Continue Reading

Women having their say: Not a love poem in sight

Last night I went out with my friend Patricia and we talked, as women do, over sushi and white wine. It’s an important ritual. We treasure the chance to sit and exchange our stories and have our say, at least with each other. What goes unspoken is that it’s a world where we do not always feel we get to have that. Continue Reading

Poetry, happiness and memory: Minnesota’s Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen

Poetry, happiness and memory emerged as the dominant themes at lunch on March 20th with Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen at the Humanities Center in St. Paul, part of the Lunch and Learn series. Sutphen’s talk was playfully labeled with alternative titles: “Got Poetry?,” Poetry in Your Pocket,” “Poetry Out Loud,” and “Poetry for Lunch.” In the end, these were really just chapters in a free-ranging discussion that touched on why it’s important to get poetry, to understand it and keep it close at hand, like a poem in your pocket, something you can remember and recite. Continue Reading

Chester Bowl in Duluth: The upside of a downhill winter program

We drove carefully along Duluth’s Skyline Parkway toward Chester Park Saturday morning. The streets were thick with fresh, wet snow and fog shrouded our slow progress into the forest. We knew we had arrived at our destination when we spotted a set of wooden buildings decked out in a rainbow array of old skis. We had come on a mission to discover the Shangri-La of community-run ski hills, Chester Bowl. Continue Reading