COMMUNITY VOICES | Frogtown Fresh Is In the air

Art + Community = Frogtown Fresh is a collaboration with the Frogtown Neighborhood Association and the Creative Thinkers Group. The Creative Thinkers Group was started by Vong Lee, who was hired by Springboard for The Arts as an Artist Organizer for the Frogtown Neighborhood Association (FNA). Lee met with FNA and asked them the issues they wanted to address in the Frogtown Community. Caty Royce (Executive Director) and Sam Buffington (Organizing Director) wanted to address the vacant lots, foreclosure and vacant homes in Frogtown.Lee, an Artist in his own right, wanted to get other artist community leaders from Frogtown involved. Lee got in touch with: Seitu Jones, Tou Lee, Leroy Duncan, Sheronda Orridge, Justin James, and Fres Thao and held dinner & conversation events to plan out the future of artist and community partnerships. Continue Reading

Kulture Klub Collaborative: Helping homeless youth create

Kulture Klub Collaborative (KKC) is an organization for youth ages 16 -21 experiencing homelessness. Jeff Hnilicka, KKC’s current director, said that most youth organizations work with young people from a deficiency model — in other words, asking, “How can we fix you?” KKC works with youth from an asset model, which asks, “How can we help you become your best self?”One young person in KKC is getting trained and paid to be a studio engineer. He creates beats and mix tapes and is learning to work with artists in the studio in a professional manner. He is also writing and producing his own music. Continue Reading

Avalon students look at “The Closet We Created”

Junior high students at Avalon School in St. Paul produced a photo exhibit called OUT (The Closets We Created) as part of a service learning project in support of LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, Ally) rights. At the opening night on January 31, students displayed their work, spoke about the project and mingled with guests over appetizers.The youth-led project was facilitated by EDIT, a small nonprofit organization with a mission to empower youth to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion together (EDIT) through service learning, leadership, and the arts. Avalon contracted with EDIT to teach their junior high humanities class in October. As part of required service learning, students selected a cause that they wanted to support, researched the cause, and worked on a project to support the cause. The night started off with an open house where the guests had the opportunity to look at the pictures on display, network and mingle with each other, and eat appetizers. Continue Reading

REVIEW | From ‘respect for dirt’ to Sunday dinners, Soul Food Monologues find common ground in women’s experience

On December 20, LaTasha Powell, Regina Carter, J. DaVon Nolen, Lataijah Powell, Zoe Hollomon, Candis Alaine Hill, Princess Nelson, and Divine Islam gathered at the Capri Theatre, telling their stories one by one, focusing on food and their life experiences. They appeared in Soul Food Monologues, a project of Appetite for Change in North Minneapolis.

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Jambo Africa presents Minnesota’s global talent

Jambo Africa, a Brooklyn Center restaurant where the East African cuisine of Kenya meets the West African cuisine of Liberia, hosted a review of musical and spoken word artists on November 17, including Ibé Kaba, Shahar Eberzon, Bryan Thao Worra, Rodrigo Sanchez Chavarria, Jamala Pettiford, Nimo Farah, Leslie Young, and Chaun Webster.Ibe Kaba, who is an author, teacher, community editor for the Saint Paul Almanac, and spoken word artist, welcomed everyone into the space. Kaba explained that accent, the theme of the event, is not just how people talk, but also the experience that comes with that.Shahar Eberzon, a singer and song writer, was born in Beersheba, Israel. Eberzon was accompanied by a keyboard player. Eberzon sang two songs: “Believe” was about her experience as an immigrant in the United States, and a still-untitled song was about her grandmother living through the holocaust and sharing her story with her family.Bryan Thao Worra, a Laotian American author, has been an artist for 20 years, has written seven books. Thao Worra, a former Minneapolis resident, now splits his time between California and North Minneapolis. Continue Reading

Soul Sounds: an open mic for nurturing arts, building community

I recently had the opportunity to attend Soul Sounds Open Mic where the featured artist was Danez Smith, who is a spoken word artist, slam poet, and author. It was an intimate crowd of about 40 people, with some attendees even dressed in Halloween costumes.Soul Sounds Open Mic takes place at Golden Thyme Cafe in St. Paul every week, and is community collaboration between the Saint Paul Almanac and Golden Thyme Coffee Café. The goal of Soul Sounds is to create a safe, multigenerational, and diverse space for people to create and share work while engaging in active dialogue that promotes connection and community.The first artist of the night at last week’s Soul Sounds was Mimz, a spoken word artist who shared a poem called The Right One, about her search to find the right man. She also performed a poem about the trials and tribulations of raising her daughter to be a strong and proud black woman, which the crowd enjoyed.As the artists blessed the stage one by one, they touched on a number of topics: from losing a child, to molestation, to saving one’s self for the right person. Continue Reading