COMMUNITY VOICES | Katwalk 2014 delivers impeccable design with a sustainable focus

It was fast, it was furious — and the show left awe-struck audience members eager for more fashion. Katwalk: Fathom 2014 at The O’Shaughnessy on May 17 showcased original work from over 30 students in the apparel, merchandising and design program at St. Catherine University.Sustainable practice is incorporated at every level of the program curriculum, from re-purposing textiles to creating looks from recycled material. Each year, this sustainability commitment is revealed in many of the designs featured at the Katwalk.The show opened with a series of re-purposed designs. As part of their “apparel construction and analysis” course, sophomore designers were tasked with creating a new look from an already existing textile product. Continue Reading

Shop (or protest) locally on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Go Green Saturday and beyond

Does the thought of getting up at 1 a.m. on Black Friday after your turkey coma give you the cold chills?  Would you rather not risk leaving your child orphaned because you have been trampled by crowds trying to claim that last cheap plasma TV?  Do you love seeing the smile on your loved one’s face after she opens the thoughtful, one-of-a-kind gift you scoured little shops to find? Then have we got the guide for you! x x x x x x x** FRIDAY — Don’t want to shop? CTUL offers an alternative: “Join us on Black Friday as we unite with WALMART workers to take action against WALMART, then take action outside another store in support of Retail Cleaning workers across the Twin Cities! We will meet at the Midway Walmart at 11am then bus together to another location with CTUL and bus back around 1pm.” (For more on Walmart workers, see Erik Hare’s blog post.)** SATURDAY — Shop small businesses in North Minneapolis, with special deals advertised by the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition.  Check their website for coupons and deals.** SATURDAY — Central Corridor businesses, slammed by months of construction, will welcome customers back on Go Green Saturday. Continue Reading

“We are the Government”: Remembering MN’s “Happy Warrior”

Friday marks the 100th birthday of former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, whose nickname as a young U.S. senator from Minnesota was “The Happy Warrior” for his positive attitude and hard work. Humphrey is known for his key role in establishing the Peace Corps, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the Minnesota DFL party, as well as for his enduring advocacy of social issues including civil rights, arms control and humanitarian foreign aid. His son, Hubert H. “Skip” Humphrey III, a former Minnesota attorney general, says his father’s passions for life and politics were one and the same: he didn’t believe in a government separate from the people. “From my father’s perspective, he always said the most important public office in this country is being a citizen, being involved as a citizen, because it’s the people that show up that make the difference.” His father’s strongly held belief, was that the moral test of government is its ability to care for the most vulnerable in the community – including children, the elderly, poor and disenfranchised, Skip Humphrey says, adding that he also had a great understanding of the human condition. Continue Reading

Child advocates analyze how HHS budget cuts impact Minnesota’s children

It’s now one week until the end of Minnesota’s regular legislative session, and state lawmakers are scrambling to finalize the state budget. The latest version of the Health and Human Services budget bill passed late last week in conference committee has child advocates worried about the fate of Minnesota’s children. Alexandra Fitzsimmons, legislative affairs and advocacy director with Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota, says the bill’s reductions to critical support services for children and families take the state in the wrong direction, as documented in a just-released report. “Children have always been a priority for our state, and they should be a priority for our state. But when so many families are struggling to make ends meet, and are struggling to provide their children with basic needs, it’s just not the time to cut these important programs. Now is the time to make these investments, so we have the development for the future.” Continue Reading

Minnesota college students face mounting loan debt

Republican state lawmakers in Minnesota Monday refused Democratic-Farmer-Labor Governor Mark Dayton’s proposed budget compromise, sticking to an all-cuts approach to close the state’s deficit. Proposed cuts to higher education currently amount to 14 percent, resulting in the lowest funding level in over a decade. Joshua Winters, executive director of the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG), says tuition has doubled at many of the state’s public colleges in the past decade, and is already out of reach for many young people. “It becomes less and less, frankly, a public education, and more and more an education that’s only affordable for those with the means. As a result, many qualified high school graduates are going to have a much more difficult decision when they look forward, in deciding whether they can afford to get a higher education.” Continue Reading

When it comes to taxes, who speaks for Minnesota’s small businesses?

As state lawmakers head into the final week of the legislative session, few revenue options have appeared in any of the final drafts of Omnibus bills, other than a controversial racino gambling proposal. Governor Mark Dayton’s proposal to raise taxes on Minnesota’s top tier earners has been glaringly absent from any of the bills so far. GOP lawmakers have shunned the idea, calling it a “job killing tax.”YESTERDAY — Part 1: If we tax them, will they flee? Early in the session, Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers wrote to constituents that “These tax increases will fall disproportionately on job creators. Approximately 92 percent of small businesses pay their taxes through the individual income tax.”Zellers statement was quickly called out as false by MPR’s PoliGraph analysis, but the “job killing tax” rhetoric has lingered on. Continue Reading

If we tax them, will they flee?

Much of the rationale behind the “job killing tax” rhetoric floating around the Capitol is the belief that a top tier income tax will drive businesses, or at least top-earning business leaders, out of the state. In his “All About Jobs” blog posting earlier this legislative session, David Olson, president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, called Governor Dayton’s proposed tax on the state’s wealthy “chilling:” It is easy to pick on the rich – many of whom have taken huge risks to build successful companies. But the reality is rich people can live where they want. My guess is they won’t want to live in a state with the highest income tax in the country, especially since there are plenty of places with lower taxes and quality of life that’s at least as good, if not better. But research in California, New Jersey and Maryland where similar taxes were implemented, does not support this argument. Continue Reading

Maternal depression: much more than just the ‘baby blues’

Thirteen days after the birth of her first son, Graham, Ellie Zuehlke experienced the first profound effects of maternal depression, which she likens to being hit with a Mack truck. “And it was a complete and utter shock to me and my family. I really didn’t know what was going on at first, but I was unable to eat, unable to sleep, really unable to function at all,” she said. Zuehlke also experienced an array of physical symptoms as well, including dizziness, nausea, and chronic pain. But when the normally optimistic go-getter was struck with suicidal thoughts, she knew it had to be something far more serious than the “baby blues” she was warned about. Continue Reading

Diminishing democracy? What budget amendments would mean for MN

As progress on balancing the state budget stalemates, Republican lawmakers have proposed an array of budget-related constitutional amendments that they say will limit government growth. Nan Madden, director of the Minnesota Budget Project, begs to differ. She warns that the amendments would limit the state’s flexibility in dealing with its budget issues. “None of them give the state more tools. In fact, they really tie the hands of legislators; they would create more gridlock at the Capitol. Continue Reading

Food support expands access to Minnesota farmers’ markets

ST. PAUL, Minn. – As many farmers’ markets across the state open for the season this weekend, more Minnesota families will have access to fresh, locally grown food. Several markets will now accept payment from the federal food support program, or “food stamps,” thanks to a joint effort between state agencies, farmers’ markets and local foundations.Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson explains that technology has previously been a challenge for farmers’ markets in accepting the debit cards used by food-stamp recipients.”Our Minnesota Department of Agriculture is working with the markets so many of them can get wireless card readers. While it will differ a little bit depending on what market someone goes to, having these readers is going to make everything easier, both for the sellers as well as for the people purchasing the food.”Thirteen markets across the state will accept food stamps. Continue Reading