The state of Ecuador in Northeast

A vision in the clouds and hope of a better life has rooted hundreds of Ecuadorians in NE Minneapolis. On New Year’s Day Ecuadorians packed the Church of St. Cyril and Methodius for the Our Lady of the Cloud celebration. With Christmas lights strung from the lights and singing Spanish-language hymns and clapping, the Catholic congregation marked the 15th observance at the church of the believed miracle in Ecuador of the appearance of the figure of Mary in the clouds seen as revealing a special love. The celebration included a procession with a figure of Mary and infant son carried aloft on a flower-bedecked platform. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | You really don’t want to meet the Dicks at Dick’s Resort in the Mall of America

I’m not one to cry. Truth is, I rarely cry, but during a visit to Dick’s Resort in the Mall of America I was literally reduced to tears! The bartender was abusive, abrasive, and mean as HELL. I wasn’t sure why he was in a bad mood, but later found out that it is their “niche” to be mean as spitfire. Were they really trained to treat people like this, to the point of harassment? Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | The Big E sizes up MN GOP candidates

The Big E, confessing to Minnesita Progressive Project (MPP) readers and contributers, recently wrote that his heart no longer pines to hose down right wing sparkle ponies like Michele Bachmann or even review books by the likes of a Keith Ellison.  The Big E (known to his Minneapolis neighbors as Eric Pusey), is the founding scold of the MPP lefty sentry post and appears on the current edition of Democratic Visions as he retires from political blogging. After a moment of posing as a weary blogosphere elder  (as if blogging was old enough to earn elders), the smart, liberal confederate, prompted by an actual DFL elder,  Tim O’Brien, shines with bemused and bewildered takes on the current state of the Minnesota Republican Party and its clownish, hopeful State and Congressional candidates.   Mr. Pusey, who has splashed gleefully in the rushing stream of blogs, Tweets, Facebook twerking and probably Skype, does quite well in the “legacy” medium of television where I operate.  Fox Nine News knew that and for a while put him on from time-to-time.  But the Fox 9 News producers didn’t have the cojones to make him a regular pundit.   Too bad.  Mr. Pusey has good chemistry. This ten-minute Eric and Tim segment is yours to consider.  Its “tagged” (the TV producer’s sense of the word) with an homage to the late, great, populist troubadour Pete Seeger and Twin Cities activism thanks to the air guitar wonders -The Junk Yard Democrats, a peoples’ anthem, and creative editing.  Enjoy!  Enjoy!  Democratic Visions February Segments Ex-blogger Eric Pusey and Tim O’Brien on senate and gubernatorial hopefuls.Jon Spayde as a clinically depressed motivational speaker with advice for Republican hopefuls.I report on the DFL 48 Precinct Caucuses and present an award winning short film making change. Democratic Visions is handcrafted by Eden Prairie, Edina and Minnetonka volunteer Democrats at the Bloomington Community Access Television studio by arrangement with the Southwest Suburban Cable Commission. Democratic Visions Cable ScheduleMinneapolis – MTN Channel 16 – Sundays at 8:30 p.m.; Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. Hopkins, Minnetonka, Edina, Richfield and Eden Prairie – Comcast Channel 15 – Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m. and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. Bloomington – BCAT Cable Channel 16 – Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m. The entire Feburary program and 183 archived Dem Vis segments can be seen on the Democratic Visions Channel on YouTube. Democratic Visions has become the  liveliest political issues show in Minnesota.   I know.  I produce the darned thing.   Continue Reading

Minneapolis march and vigil remembers 147 homeless people who died in 2013

Minnesota homeless people who died during 2013 were remembered in a December 19 march and vigil in Minneapolis. Nearly 300 people marched 28 blocks through downtown Minneapolis in 15-degree temperatures, carrying the names of Minnesota’s homeless who passed away this year. “We hold the annual march to honor and remember, in this case, 147 people who generally are not memorialized at the time of their passing,” said Stephen Horsfield, the director of Simpson Housing Services, which helped organize the event.  “We want to bring some dignity to the lives of the people and the people who remember them and also call attention to the issue.”

People of all ages, gathered outside the Hennepin County Government Center to pick up signs provided by the organizers, with the name, age and hometown of those to be remembered.  Then, silently, they walked west to Nicollet Avenue and followed it south to the Simpson Overnight Center on 1st Avenue for the memorial service. “[Homelessness] has touched my life,” said Theo Park, a pastor at the Gethsemane Episcopal Church, who was part of the march.  “I’ve always lived indoors but I’ve served in shelters with men living rough.  I see it on the doorstep of my church.”

“I always say being an advocate means actually showing up [even if its cold],” Park continued. While there has been a lot of progress made over the last few years providing affordable housing and moving homeless people off the streets and out of shelters, homelessness remains a persistent challenge. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Sharing a meal: Great turnout for Eastside Meals on Wheels’ Mission Nutrition Dining Edition

Eastside Meals on Wheels’ first restaurant night fundraiser, Mission Nutrition Dining Edition, had a wonderful turnout! Local restaurants Anchor Fish & Chips, The Bulldog N.E., Emily’s Lebanese Deli, Hazel’s Northeast, Moose on Monroe, Kramarczuk’s, and Red Stag Supperclub all donated a portion of the proceeds made on Thursday, September 19th to ensure that homebound folks in the area continue to receive warm nutritious meals.Preliminary calculations estimate that the total intake of the event at over $2,444. “Since it was percentage based, we really had no idea what to expect,” said Executive Director of Eastside Meals on Wheels Eileen Hafften. “It was a bit nerve wracking! But we couldn’t be more pleased with how it’s turned out.” The nonprofit, which serves Northeast and Southeast Minneapolis and St. Continue Reading

NEIGHBORHOOD NOTE | Winter Warm Up Scheduled for January 25

The fifth annual Winter Warm Up, the primary source of funding for the Northeast Middle School after-school theater program, is set for Friday, January 25 from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m. at the Grace Center (1500 6th St NE). All are invited to attend.The event will feature music by Buster Phelan (a local band that performs a mix of rock, pop and R & B music, food from local restaurants, beer, wine and a silent auction.All proceeds from ticket sales and the auction directly benefit the Northeast Middle School theater program, which puts on two shows each year: a winter play and a spring musical.  For this year’s fall play the Middle School students combined with the Edison theater group and performed a Shakespearean double feature.  The middle school students performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Edison group performed Romeo and Juliet. Usually 10-15 students participate in the fall play but this year more than 40 students worked on the performance.For their spring musical, Northeast Middle School is staging the full two act version of Peter Pan on April 18 and 19.“Although this is an ambitious undertaking the middle school program has grown to the point where they are ready to tackle this classical musical,” Chris Pratt, chair of the Winter Warm-up committee said.“In keeping with the spirit of Peter Pan, we would really like to be able to “fly” a group of students above the middle school stage,” he said. Continue Reading

NEIGHBORHOOD NOTE | Meet Barb Kapala: Northeast Middle School Community Education Beacons Coordinator

“It’s all about the kids,” Barb Kapala sums up her work as the Community Education Beacons Coordinator at Northeast Middle School.  She’s been at the job since 2003 and still loves working with the middle school students. It was 2001 when a  good friend encouraged Barb to teach a class in the Minneapolis Public Schools, entitled, “I Believe I Can Fly.”  At that time, she worked fulltime at an HR job but was able to take some time off to teach the class. Barb spent 12 weeks with kids in 3rd – 7th grade, teaching a class not only academic but also in goal setting and confidence building skills.  The class was a success and Barb felt that she had made an impact on the students. That same friend encouraged her to do it full time.  She agreed.  She came into the district in 2002 and later accepting the Community Education Beacons Coordinator position in 2003.The Beacons after school program has been at Northeast Middle School since 1998 and is one of the original Beacons sites in Minneapolis. Continue Reading

NEIGHBORHOOD NOTE | Community education right in the neighborhood

Did you know that Northeast Middle School (NEMS) is a community education site and offers adult lap and family open swim periods for the community? Or that NEMS and Waite Park is one of the few places that teaches Polish language classes?That’s because NEMS has been a Minneapolis community education site since the 1970s and offers between 50-65 enrichment classes for adults and kids each quarter at affordable prices. It’s a wealth of resources available right in the neighborhood with classes like aqua zumba, Spanish, quilting basics and youth swimming.David Warnest has been the community education coordinator at NEMS for more than nine years. He said that even though Minneapolis community education has offered open swim periods for the community for a number of years, a lot of neighbors are still surprised.He added, “A lot of people don’t know that Northeast is a site for their ACCESS Service Program for adults with disabilities.”  They receive 150 registrations for the program each quarter.Although Community Education casts a wide net of offerings for many different people, David said that “the greatest value community education has is that it is located right in our neighborhoods and can offer the community greater access to facilities within their communities.”The classes vary by community and are there because they are the ones that people register for. Facilities at a different building direct the activities. Continue Reading