Best of Neighborhood News 3/12/2019: 12 years ago, the Legislature set out to end poverty in Minnesota by 2020. How’s it going?

12 years ago, the Legislature set out to end poverty in Minnesota by 2020. How’s it going? In 2007, “The Commission To End Poverty in Minnesota by 2020” was founded by 18 Minnesota State legislators, co-chaired by incumbents Rep. Carlos Mariani and Sen. John Marty. The convening of the commission was followed by subsequent tours and public hearings held throughout Minnesota, all of which and more coalesced into the publication of a report. That report articulates the commission’s goals and mission, as well as their call for “an increase in the minimum wage; expanded working family tax credits; more child care help; and credits for small businesses,” among other things. Continue Reading

Tapping immigrant roots to side-step traditional food business models

“Hustling is in our blood,” Chef Yia Vang said. “I’m not doing anything different than what my parents and my grandparents were doing in Laos and Thailand.”

Vang operates Union Kitchen, a Hmong American pop-up restaurant, alongside his cousin Chris Her. Like many immigrant food business owners, Vang’s culinary journey had humble beginnings. What started out as cooking phở in garages at church-sponsored backyard parties four years ago evolved into a pop-up restaurant just shy of two years old, now having found temporary residency outside of Sociable Cider Werks in northeast Minneapolis. Similar to Union Kitchen, Donburi is a pop-up Japanese restaurant offering up rice bowls, poke bowls and fresh sashimi. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 2/26/2019: Youth-led climate movement taken to the State Capitol

Youth-led climate movement taken to the State CapitolMinnesota Can’t Wait, a broad coalition of youth, has changed the course of Minnesota’s progressive climate politics when they packed the State Capitol in early February to enshrine the Minnesota Green New Deal. Modeled after the eponymously named federal legislative version, spearheaded by U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), the Minnesota Green New Deal also proposes similar programs addressing climate change through the remaking of the economy. The Green New Deal demands an “equitable” transition to renewable energy sources by 2030; it now makes its way through the state legislature. This moment in Minnesota’s nascent climate justice movement is what one young activist calls “a model for other states and the Federal Government to bring about additional Green New Deal legislation.”

To learn more, read the Southwest Journal. Amplifying voices: The SEAD Project uses storytelling to capture historyStorytelling and art are the centerpieces of a recent initiative led by the Southeast Asian Diaspora (SEAD) Project to highlight the forgotten histories of the millions who were borne out of the U.S. involvement in the French Indochina wars. Continue Reading

How community members in Ramsey County stopped a big-data plan from flagging students as at-risk

On Jan. 28, 2019, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter made an announcement at St. Paul’s City Hall that caught many observers by surprise: after months of community resistance, city and county officials have decided to walk away from a controversial data-sharing initiative. The initiative – unanimously approved by the Ramsey County Attorney, the County Sheriff of St. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 2/12/19: Change is coming to racist murals in St. Paul City Hall

Change is coming to racist murals in St. Paul City Hall

Four racist murals hung at St. Paul City Hall are at the center of a countywide kerfuffle going as far back as the 1970s and now re-emerging as part of the national debate about the place of public art. They were first installed in 1931, shared originally by the Ramsey County Commission and the St. Paul City Council. Continue Reading

The view from here: what immigration attorneys who are immigrants themselves are seeing

Within the immigration system, lawyers “are the only ones between [the clients and] absolute chaos,” said Maya Okafor (name changed to protect her identity), a former immigration attorney. “They’re the only ones standing in the way.”

Okafor discussed being a target. The current administration is “looking for attorneys who are breaking the rules. They’re calling us ‘dirty attorneys’ who are helping people do bad things,” Okafor said, referring to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Oct. 12, 2017 remarks to the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 1/30/19: NAACP chapters unite to target state’s racial wealth gap

Minneapolis and St. Paul NAACP chapters unite to target state’s racial wealth gap

The myriad racial disparities and issues affecting Black Communities in the Twin Cities have caught the attention of the National NAACP, which has announced that it will create an Economic Inclusion Plan (EIP) for the Twin Cities. This plan will include measures to address issues such as mass incarceration and economic injustice as well as entrepreneurship and rising education costs. At a leadership gathering in December, moderated by Minneapolis NAACP President Leslie Redmond, handpicked panelists from both Minneapolis and St. Paul areas were brought together, all “recognizing that these economic disparities are impacting both of us and that we need to be able to work together and move forward,” said Redmond. Continue Reading

Sensory-friendly: a safe play place for children with autism

The Northtown Mall in Blaine, Minnesota, bustles with activities for children: a video game arcade, furry motor scooters shaped like animals, a bungee-cord trampoline you’d expect to see at a carnival. Among the flashing lights and commotion is Tony’s Place, which opened doors in October with a mission to cultivate an inclusive play space for people who live with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), their family members and friends. Inside Tony’s Place you’ll find twinkling fairy lights wrap around various sensory swings that can hold multiple people, including children, adults and people with wheelchairs. A pallet of bubble wrap stands in an alcove, available for anyone to satisfy that tactile need. There’s a netted trampoline and physical activity center to help release physical energy. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 1/16: Dr. Joi Lewis’s debut book offers path to healing and liberation

Dr. Joi Lewis’s debut book offers path to healing and liberation 

Dr. Joi Lewis, originally from East Saint Louis, Illinois, says that many in Black and brown communities are suffering from intergenerational oppression and trauma. “That’s why healing ourselves is so radical,” said Lewis, life coach, self-care expert and author of Healing, The Act of Radical Self-Care. “It’s put out there in a commercial way like self-care is something that is for people who have means, who have money, as an extra thing that you do.”

Black women are often expected to be strong, able to tolerate and suffer silently any amount of mental, emotional, and physical violence due to racism, sexism, classism and other systemic oppressions. “Even when I was on campus, I was doing healing work,” said Lewis, referring to her 25-year career on college campuses as a dean, a vice president, and a chief diversity officer. “I was doing a lot of work around social justice and liberation work and connecting to the community. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 1/2: University of Minnesota names its first female president

University of Minnesota names its first female president

The Board of Regents voted to confirm Joan Gabel with a five-year contract as the next president of the university. Gabel visited all five campuses during the interview process and answered questions about her vision of higher education. When asked about student debt, Gabel said, “We really need to be thinking about clever ways to make sure students can afford education and I think it’s very clear that we are starting to inch up on what the marked can bear, even for students who don’t have fiscal constraints.”

While she ultimately earned high praise from stakeholders, the appointment process was not without controversy, as she was named as the sole finalist, which has drawn criticism in terms of transparency. In addition to the process, there were questions about her non-traditional background; Gabel has a JD not a PhD and she was a dean of a business school. Find out more at MNDaily. Continue Reading