The Inequality Debate Needs to be Careful about Scale

Two weeks ago, the Atlantic published a short (and facile) post called “the Miracle of Minneapolis” that (as is the way of media circles in insecure places) launched itself right onto the forefront of the Twin Cities social media scene. And, with good reason, the article re-kindledconversations about racial disparities that have been going on for years. Before I dive into my argument, I want to outline two crucial caveats. First, I love that we’re discussing racial disparities with increasing frequency these days. We have ignored the way that our cities have created wealth only for some (white) people, and made it almost impossible for others. The Fair Housing Act was only passed in the 60s, which isn’t very long ago, and we need to always remember how our cities treat people differently depending on race, class, and culture. Continue Reading

Mission to Cuba would make Minnesota farmers first to market

In mid-December the Obama administration announced it would begin to normalize relations with Cuba, opening the door to potentially lucrative new markets. Now, Minnesota farmers want to be among the first to move through it.The House Agriculture Finance Committee heard legislation Tuesday which seeks to help them do just that. HF772, sponsored by Rep. Jack Considine Jr. (DFL-Mankato), would provide $100,000 to identify existing and emerging opportunities in Cuba for Minnesota’s agricultural producers.“I believe there’s an opportunity for the best family farmers in the world, here in Minnesota, to expand the markets in Cuba as the restrictions are being lifted,” Considine said. “I’d like to see us get down there first.”The bill, which was laid over for possible omnibus bill inclusion, would also direct the Department of Agriculture to effectively communicate these opportunities to producers and processors. The companion, SF733, is sponsored by Sen. Dan Sparks(DFL-Austin) and awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee. Continue Reading

Red Lake Tribal Council to research feasibility of marijuana

RED LAKE, Minn. – Although the subject was not on the printed agenda for the Red Lake Tribal Council at the regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Jan. 13, recent acts by the federal government concerning Indian tribes, hemp and marijuana prompted several tribes to explore the feasibility of growing medical marijuana and industrial hemp.Red Lake Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr., added the agenda item shortly after the call to order. He said he felt the federal ruling should at least be discussed. Seki cited several tribes that are looking deeper into the issue and mentioned fewer yet that were actually taking action.Immediately, Red Lake citizen and Gardening Tech at Red Lake Traditional Foods David Manuel asked to address those assembled and spoke of the economic advantages to getting involved with at least industrial hemp and possibly medical marijuana. Continue Reading

Minneapolis may soon get a commemorative Oromo street

The Minneapolis City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on Jan. 12 to decide on Council Member Abdi Warsame’s application for commemorative street names along the city’s Cedar riverside area. Warsame’s proposal calls for 4th Street South between Cedar Avenue and 15th Avenue South to be named “Oromo Street,” and for the stretch between 6th Street and Cedar Avenue to 15th avenue South to be called “Somali Street.”The hearing is scheduled to take place at 4:30 p.m in Room 317 City Hall, 350 S 5th street in Minneapolis, Minn. The proposal is backed by the city’s Department of Public Works and the Department of Community Planning and Economic Development, according to the Commission’s website. The Commission’s decisions are final unless appealed.For a city that boasts the largest population of both Oromo and Somali immigrants, such recognition would be a welcome development. Continue Reading

Report from the Climate Change Conference in Peru

I had the honor of being part of a nurses delegation to the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Peru. These are my impressions as one nurse in Lima.We went as a delegation representing National Nurses United (NNU), the national umbrella for my state nurses union—the Minnesota Nurses Association.  We were there to address the issue of Climate Change and the impacts of pollution generally from a public health perspective. NNU’s official position is that the “Climate Emergency is a Health Emergency”:NNU emphasizes the health impacts of climate disruption. Already, more than 8 million deaths worldwide are directly attributable to air pollution, primarily due to the use of “combustion energy” derived from the burning of oil, gas, coal, biomass and waste, and lack of access to clean energy. Warming temperatures have accelerated the spread of vector-born diseases such as Ebola, malaria, dengue, yellow fever and Lyme’s disease that spike as temperatures increase … desertification, devastation and displacement from severe weather events and sea level rise … will lead to immeasurable human suffering and economic devastation.We were granted official observer status for the conference sessions. Continue Reading

2014’s lesson: Take action. Lives depend on it.

December has been a terrible month for human rights—from the U.S. Senate’s report confirming the use of torture, to the slaughter of Pakastani school children, to two grand jury decisions not to indict police officers for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Overall, 2014 has been an extremely troubling year. Some human rights abuses garnered a lot of attention; many did not, taking place under the radar of the media and public conversation. Let’s consider a few examples, and let them serve as a call to action. Continue Reading

The giving season: Lao Diaspora style

It’s the holiday season and while we know the Lao way of celebrating isn’t just eating holiday hybrid favorites like honey-baked ham with a side of sticky rice and jeow, it’s also about giving. The reflections of the past year, what it means to be in tuned with one’s self, and building community one hopes to see. Continue Reading