North Minneapolis Laotians give garden tour

On Tuesday, August 25, 80 people gathered at Olson Townhomes to participate in the North Minneapolis Laotian Garden Tour. Laotian gardeners led neighbors and fellow gardeners through dense rows of long beans, hot peppers, Vietnamese mint, cucumbers and tomatoes. Channel 5 and channel 11 also came. After the tour participants enjoyed delicious kou pun curry made with vegetables harvested from the garden

The garden tour was organized to highlight the importance of the garden to the Laotian community. The Laotians hope to be able to preserve the garden even when the construction of the Bottineau LRT and related development comes. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Minneapolis cab drivers perpetrate racism as Star Tribune reporters witness blatant bias

After graduating with honors from Grambling State University this past Spring, Brittany Bentley returned to Minnesota to participate in the Teach for America program. Out of ten choices, Minneapolis was her fifth.  We moved to Minneapolis when my daughter was eighteen months old, but she has always believed she’d feel more welcome in other parts of the world. My daughter has grown to accept her placement here after meeting some of the 5th graders she will be teaching in the fall. Her experience this past weekend brings some realities back to the forefront. The race relations issue in this state exists at every level of the spectrum. Here is an account of what she experienced this past weekend while trying to hail a cab in downtown Minneapolis. “Two Caucasian reporters from the Star tribune come up to me and ask how long I’ve been waiting for a cab. I tell them that I’ve been waiting for over an hour. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Three birds, one tree: Meet the new Harrison Neighborhood Association Executive Director

The Board of Directors of the Harrison Neighborhood Association is delighted to announce the hiring of our new Executive Director, Shauen V. T. Pearce. Most recently of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Shauen brings deep experience in civic engagement, community organizing, grassroots leadership development and nonprofit management and leadership. Please join us in welcoming Shauen to the neighborhood!Greetings from Harrison Neighborhood Association’s New Executive DirectorAs a native of South Chicago, I learned firsthand the power of united neighbors from people who ensured that each family had something to eat, fought tirelessly for all and who celebrated each other without hesitation. I believe that we are strongest together, like oak trees connected at the roots, sustaining each other in the midst of storms. For a tree to be healthy (a community in our case) there must be nourishment. Racial equity, safety, and economic justice —including livable wages, affordable housing and transportation, and healthy food— are essential elements for a thriving community of residents, business owners, and public officials. 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

Refugee nerdery

MarsCon is coming up this weekend, one of the first major science fiction conventions of Minnesota each year, along such popular conventions as ConVergence, Diversicon, Crypticon, Anime Detour, Arcana, MinnCon, and the like, each a celebration of the fantastic and the futuristic. I enjoy these events. As I often tell my writing colleagues, I think many literary festivals could take a cue from events such as these, where you see so much passion and talent on display. 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

City’s newest street links Northside to Chain of Lakes and southwest Minneapolis

A landmark project has literally bridged a big divide between Minneapolis’ north and south sides. After 14 months of construction, a new stretch of Van White Memorial Boulevard is now open to traffic. The street spans rail lines and passes under a freeway – two barriers that have contributed to the isolation of North Minneapolis for decades.The mile of newly constructed roadway connects the Harrison and Bryn Mawr neighborhoods to I-394 and neighborhoods to the south. Van White Boulevard includes a 600-ft. bridge above the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail lines and the Cedar Lake Trail. Continue Reading

NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES | Venture North: A favorite Harrison destination for bikers and coffee lovers

Looking for a great destination within a short bike ride of downtown Minneapolis? Head down Glenwood Avenue and in about 10 minutes you will find a bright red building with a mural on the side. As you walk into the cozy shop you will hear the beats coming from vintage records; then your eye drifts over to the left and you find the coffee bar, where among your options are a cold smoothie, hot tea, or the pour over, which is a cup of coffee made one cup at a time just for you. Then you see the bikes for sale, and now you know you are in one cool place.Venture North has a unique position in North Minneapolis; it is one of the few coffee shops on this side of the city, where bike repair and sale businesses are even more rare and they tie it all together with a youth empowerment service. The youth programs are the heart of Venture North: the staff take in youth and train them as bicycle mechanics and toss in some sales and customer relation skills as well.The empowerment programs and classes include the following: All About Bikes is the bike mechanic apprenticeship program for youth ages 15-23; Pedal Power is a special program for girls ages 10-12; Earn a Bike is a safety and basic repair school for ages 6-12, and upon completion of the program the youth get to keep the bike they fixed. Continue Reading