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 | And I Carry – The real face of permit-to-carry holders in Minnesota

We are faced daily with stories that heighten our awareness of the responsibility we have for our own personal safety and that of our loved ones.As that awareness grows, so does the number of people obtaining a permit-to-carry a firearm for personal safety. Reports from across the country show that record numbers of permits are being issued, and that the demographics of those purchasing firearms and obtaining permits is changing also.As the number of permit holders grows exponentially and they become more visible and prevalent in society, including right here in the Twin Cities, it’s more important than ever to share facts, information and education about Minnesota’s right-to-carry law and about who permit holders are to correct misconceptions and stereotypes. Permit holders are moms and dads, sons and daughters. Permit holders are your neighbors, co-workers, friends and relatives. Minnesota’s permit holders have received required training and have passed a criminal background check. Continue Reading

DANCE REVIEW | “Sol y Luna”: Zorongo Flamenco has “One Big Night” at the Ritz Theater

On November 9, Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre performed at the Ritz Theater as part of the theater’s “One Big Night” series: one-time programs that showcase a range of companies’ repertoires. It’s not a bad idea: instead of trying to sell an entire weekend’s worth of seats, pack the house for a single electric performance. It certainly worked that way for Zorongo Flamenco: four dancers and two musicians rose passionately to the challenge of meeting the crowd’s high expectations.The program, titled Sol y Luna, was presented in front of giant projections of the sun and moon. That might have been a cheesy touch if the performers hadn’t brought an energy equal to the imposing setting. The company members have been taking Sol y Luna to venues across the state, and were clearly excited to be sharing the program in their home town.The dancers were the company’s very best: Deborah Elias, Collette Illarde, Antonio Arrebola, and artistic director Susana di Palma herself. Continue Reading

School pathways, five-year enrollment plan: What North and Northeast Minneapolis schools are affected?

Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) parents have been given one more month to comment on a complex Five-Year Enrollment Plan, but many say they should have been involved long before the district administration developed the plan.In a fast-paced hour Tuesday, Oct. 22, parents and community advocates peppered Associate Superintendent for Area A, Michael Thomas, with questions and statements on themes of disingenuous engagement, selling North Community High School short, and other concerns. For the most part, Thomas acknowledged and answered the questions before, after a few attempts, dividing the room into small discussion groups for a half hour of discussion plus half hour to report back and wrap up.What would have been the decision date, Nov. 12, will become a “status update, or Recommendation 2.0,” Thomas said. The school board, at its regular meeting at 1250 West Broadway, will hear and question the staff on its recommendations. Continue Reading

MUSIC REVIEW | Roe Family Singers and their House of Mercy friends celebrate Heaven Send Us Better Times

Friday, November 1 the filled-out Ritz Theater in Northeast clapped and sang and watched their kids dance for the album release of the old-time group Roe Family Singers’ Heaven Send Us Better Times.Though the show was billed for the dynamic, charismatic duo, which for the release expanded to an eight-piece, the night was also a showcase of House of Mercy Recordings, all with their own place at the wide intersection of country, blues, and gospel. Belief wasn’t necessary to enjoy the line-up, which mixed degrees of skill and style, but it can’t have hurt.House of Mercy Recordings is a wing of St. Paul’s House of Mercy church, which “offers a discriminating blend of high church and low, of tradition and innovation, sincere worship and healthy skepticism.” Their house band Blood Washed Band opened the night with reinterpretations and originals familiar enough they all reminded me of listening to the radio with my grandfather, drinking root beer while he tipped an Old Fashioned.Billed as an alt-country supergroup, Blood Washed Band’s set was lighter on the alt and heavier on waltzing country, including “Pour Me a Whiskey” from their latest Driftin’ Along.   They’re a talented bunch, but their song selection limited their vocal and musical range. There’s nothing wrong with openers trying to show everyone up with the kind of dynamism that gets an audience out of their seats—I wish they’d tried. Good band, particularly if you’re into gospel country, but I was left wanting more blood.When they came out to back Molly Maher two acts later, they got dirty. 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

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