Former and current Dinkytown activists will compare notes

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Dinkytown activists from the 1970s and those of today will compare notes on a panel discussion from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 20, in the back room of Pracna on Main at 117 Main St. S.E., Minneapolis.

The discussion will follow a showing of “The Dinkytown Uprising,” a film by Al Milgrom about the month-long demonstration in which protestors occupied buildings to stop construction of a fast-food franchise called the Red Barn. The film traces the lives of prominent leaders of the 1970 protest to see where they are today.

Some protesters in the film will participate in the discussion that is free, and admission to the film is not necessary to attend the panel.

Panelists will include Monte Bute, who was among the protestors who successfully kept the Red Barn out of Dinkytown, and Matt Hawbaker, who helped organize Save Dinkytown two years ago. This more recent group failed to prevent the demolition of businesses to construct a mixed-use midrise apartment building that opened last fall.

The panel will explore contrasts and similarities between the two protests and the changing nature of the small business district near the University of Minnesota.

Bute, an associate professor of sociology at Metropolitan State University, was among the 1970 organizers featured in Milgrom’s film. Others featured in the film may participate as well.

“I came to realize that by our mid-40s that [the philosopher] Camus was right,” Bute said in the film. “We’re just pushing the rock up the hill and it rolls back down.” But, he added, “There is something of value in pushing the rock up the hill.”

Kristen Eide-Tollefson, owner of the Book House, has created Preserve Historic Dinkytown, a combination historical archive and activist group for historic preservation in Dinkytown. 

“The panel will explore Dinkytown’s unique qualities and character of place and the cultural ramifications should Dinkytown disappear,” said Eide-Tollefson said in a news release. “Issues addressed will include the keys to the identity of Dinkytown, what anchors these qualities throughout Dinkytown’s periods of growth and change, and how to achieve growth while for preserving Dinkytown’s physical structure.”

Although the film, which premiered at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival last week at the St. Anthony Main theater, may be sold out, it may receive an additional run if it is selected for Best of the Fest screenings after the film festival at the St. Anthony Main theater.   

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