Walking home in St. Paul

“I believe nobody should be homeless.” Charlene Dickerson’s credo was the rallying cry for Saturday’s Walking Home: A Benefit for The Family Place. Dickerson’s challenge was, in concrete terms, helping 1,500 homeless people off of St. Paul’s streets and into permanent homes and stable jobs. The Family Place’s mission is precisely that. They also ensure homeless children attend school every day by serving as the neighborhood bus stop. Continue Reading

Minnesota fun is just down the road

Minnesota inspires dream-like visions of lakes and loons, friendliness and farms. Yet, people forget about one our state’s best kept secrets: oversized fiberglass sculptures. From the colossal 55-foot Green Giant in Blue Earth to the eponymous mascot of Pelican Rapids, the nine foot “Mother of All Pelicans”, gigantic statues dot the rolling Minnesota landscape. It’s no wonder that Weird Al Yankovic paid homage to Minnesota’s off-the-beaten path attractions in his ode to Darwin’s Twine Ball:
I said, “Kids, if you could go anywhere in this great big world, now where’d you like to go ta?” They said, “Dad, we wanna see the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota.” When making spring break plans this year, I discovered that a series of these larger-than-life attractions could be found if I left my house in Chaska, and made a loop from Hwy 12 (starting in Delano) to Hwy 212, back to Chaska. Continue Reading

Minnesota farmers markets hit peak

With the planting season now behind us, we can begin to enjoy the fruits and vegetables of our farmers’ and growers’ labor. Farmers markets are hitting their midsummer stride with strawberries just past peak and the first tomatoes just weeks away.Disaster in Dakota CountySince this article was written, summer storms destroyed growing crops in Dakota County, wiping out all of the fields of many Hmong-American farmers who supply Twin Cities area farmers markets. For a look at the tragedy, see the Star Tribune’s “For farmers, a harvest of heartache,” published July 12. Minnesota has a long history of farmers markets. Recently, they have arrived in cities and towns across the state. Continue Reading

Waiting in line to get in line: the need for quality housing

Last week, the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) opened its waiting list for Section 8 rent assistance vouchers for the first time in five years. The Bloomington Housing and Redevelopment Authority (BHRA) will re-open its waiting list at the end of June. The expected number of applications in Minneapolis alone is expected to exceed 15,000, an increase of 60% over the number of applications received in 2003. Waiting lists for Section 8 vouchers, the most common form of federal rent assistance, can range from six months in Greater Minnesota to over five years in the Twin Cities. This means that a Minneapolis resident who has waited for five years to get on a waiting list that will wait an additional five years before the Section 8 vouchers are available. Continue Reading