THEATER REVIEW | “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” at the Guthrie Theater serves up laughs, falls short in message

The first five minutes of Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike starts off deceptively boring. Then, in the tranquil quiet of a living room full of wicker chairs, quilted throws and mismatched socks, Sonia hurls a white ceramic coffee mug to the ground in a fit of wild unhappiness. It’s loud, physical and absurd—much like the rest of the play.

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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 | 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

West Broadway Holiday Pop Up Boutique features 20 local vendors

The West Broadway Business and Area Coalition (WBC) is announcing the West Broadway Holiday Pop Up Boutique, to take place December 13th and 14th at 201 West Broadway in North Minneapolis.The produce and craft market will be host to over 20 area vendors selling a variety of locally produced goods, from fresh apples and honey to fine art, baked goods, clothing and jewelry. Northside favorites such as Juxtaposition Arts Textile Lab, Ancestors Voices Press and Right on Thyme Catering will be joined by other crafters, artists, bakers, and even the popular urban farm, McKinley Community CSA, which will offer 2014 vegetable share registrations, t-shirts and volunteer opportunities.Earrings by Neisha Reynolds, Juxtaposition Arts, Sky Blush Crush Bath and Body Products, and Cookie Cart are a few of the participating vendors in the West Broadway Holiday Pop UP Boutique. This boutique will make affordable, unique gifts available for purchase.The concept for the shop is a Pop Up Boutique with affordable, unique gifts for purchase. The boutique will occupy a vacant space at 201 West Broadway (know as the Masters Building) for a weekend during the holidays and give Northside residents, those that work there and visitors a way to keep their holiday shopping in their community.This article is reposted from TCDP media partner Insight News. Check out the links below for other recent Insight News stories:Profiles in Excellence: David NicholsonArtspeak: Black Feminist Anthropology—Building an intellectual legacy one book at a timeThe purpose of the Holiday Pop Up Boutique is twofold: create an economic opportunity for local vendors and shoppers while also drawing attention to one of West Broadway’s available vacant properties. Continue Reading

Northeast Minneapolis parents offer praise and questions for MPS Five-Year Enrollment Plan

The proposal to add more Early Childhood education programming to Minneapolis Public Schools sites was a hit with many parents at the October 14 Northeast Minneapolis forum on the Minneapolis Public Schools new Five-Year Enrollment Plan.Parents and community members filled the Northeast Middle School Media Center to listen to Area A Superintendent Michael Thomas explain, using a PowerPoint presentation, the district’s new five-year plan and how it would impact their neighborhoods. Following Thomas’ presentation, people split into groups consisting of one district employee and five or more attendees.Anchoring one of these small groups was North High School Senior Academy principal David Branch. Branch expressed support for the proposed new early childhood centers, one of which would be located at North High School. Bringing young children into the building would be a good fit for North, Branch said, and would give older high school students a chance to gain valuable skills, and offer their services, by reading with the younger children.The district’s efforts to bring more focus to young children brought both hope and concern for downtown Minneapolis resident Denise Holt. Holt, who does not yet have children, was at the meeting as an advocate for the growing neighborhoods of downtown Minneapolis.   Letter from Downtown School Initiative to school boardDear Minneapolis Public Schools -We are aware of the Minneapolis Public School’s Five-Year Enrollment Plan and the accompanying attendance boundaries proposals for the downtown Minneapolis area. In order to maintain neighborhood cohesion and continue to build a community in this relatively new residential area, we strongly urge the Minneapolis Public Schools to consider downtown – North Loop, Downtown East, Downtown West, Elliot Park, and Loring Park – as one community when drawing attendance boundaries. Families choosing to raise their children in downtown Minneapolis share the same culture and values; they support building a dense, vibrant and walkable community. Continue Reading

Penn Gas Stop joins Appetite for Change Healthy Corner Store Project in North Minneapolis

If you look closely between the two ‘No Trespassing’ signs on the outside of Penn Gas Stop, an improved addition is advertised on another sign — fresh produce. As a part of the Healthy Corner Store Project, the station located on the corner of Penn and 26th Avenue N. in Minneapois has just ramped up its supply of healthy “grab and go” options.“We wanted to do this for a long time and I just think we needed a little push, “ said store manager Fouad Bazzine. “There was an incentive too, because most people ask for fruits and vegetables all the time anyway.”Penn Gas Stop is one of more than a dozen corner stores in North Minneapolis taking part in the project, which kicked off January 4 at this location. The Minneapolis based Appetite for Change program, the City of Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support and the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition teamed up to create the initiative, which encourages healthy eating in communities with minimal access to healthy foods.“Now we have things that we haven’t had before. It’s like a store. Continue Reading