COMMUNITY VOICES | East Side of St. Paul is ‘out of sight, out of mind’ until a serious incident happens

In recent weeks, a devastating incident occurred on the Eastside of St. Paul where several teens allegedly beat a passerby until he was unconscious. This is a circumstance that no person should have to endure. One of the notable pieces of information that has surfaced is the fact that the passerby was white and the teens were African American. Although some within the broader community argue that the attack was based on race, the reality is that in light of the circumstances under which the attack occurred, the victim could arguably have been any individual who was within the vicinity of the young people in question. Actually, a similar severe beating of an innocent Black man, Edwin Daniel, by five young Somali men occurred on the Eastside just a few years prior to this most recent incident.The factors that contribute to these types of horrific episodes, including shootings by young people against other young people, may revolve around underlying issues at the intersection of race and poverty that are pervasive on the East Side of St. Continue Reading

OUR STORIES | Rescuing Kia Vang’s home

Kia Vang came to the United States in 1980, when she was 20 years old with one child. Experiencing the different housing quality from Laos to US, she was in shock. The structure of the home and the lights she sees when she walks outside made her feel like she is in a different better world.Now Vang has 12 children. She worked as a laborer in packaging until the twins were born in 2001, but hasn’t been able to work since then. Ever since then she’s experienced weakened muscle strength in her legs and hands, and chronic back and foot aches. Continue Reading

“Strong Schools, Strong Communities” encourages students to attend St. Paul neighborhood schools

Around 40 attendees filled the assembly hall of Johnson High School and waited for St. Paul Public Schools elementary assistant superintendents, Sharon Freeman and Andrew Collins, to talk about the new Strong Schools, Strong Communities strategic plan. The November 1 meeting, one of a series focused on the initiative, was especially for the parents of Area A, to present the schools and choices of this area.  Andrew Collins introduced the latest Strong Schools, Strong Communities plan and explained that Saint Paul Public Schools wants to encourage students to attend their neighborhood schools in order to develop a better community. The new strategic plan aims to increase the achievement of the student’s potential, and improve alignment to provide a quality school choice and sustainability. In a change in school organization, the sixth grade will move to middle schools, so that elementary schools are just K-5 grades. Community school zones are designed in a new way and busing  will be provided to all community schools.These new features seemed to make the parents unsure because they asked many questions about how to choose the best school for their children.Sharon Freeman explained with a map, which was provided to each attendee, how parents can choose the best school for their kids. Continue Reading

Warm clothes for kids: You can help!

UPDATED 12/11/09 Minnesota is legendary for its brutal winters. Perhaps you’ve heard the running joke about Minnesota’s four seasons: not winter, almost winter, winter and still winter. What is not a joke is that thousands of people are in need of basic winter supplies, most urgent of these are warm hats, socks, coats and other winter clothing.   St. Paul teacher Bob Cudahy wrote in St. Paul’s E-Democracy Forum that a number of his students come to school without adequate winter clothing: “I had students show up today wearing tennis shoes and no socks. Continue Reading

Chusok Festival in St. Paul

About 200 people participated in the Korean Quarterly’s (KQ) Chusok Run/Walk 2009 fundraiser on October 4, Chusok is a harvest moon festival, celebrated in Korea every year with family visits, games, outdoor activities, and special food, according to KQ’s website . The event at the Lake Phalen Park Picnic Pavilion area, beginning with a drumming ceremony by Shinparam Drumming Group and then a 5K race, followed by food, games and entertainment. Activities at the St. Paul Chusok included kite making, face painting, and a four-stick game called “Yuht”, according to Mandi Spaid, a volunteer at the event.  There were also plenty of traditional foods such as Kim Bap, Mandu, and Hottok, as well as a demonstration of how to make Kimchi, a popular spicy, pickled salad. The race by Mandi Spaid The runners, walkers, and strollers all moved to the beginning of the line as the drumming ceremony came to a close.  There, the groups separated and the runners moved to the front as the timed race began.  Large groupings of families and friends lined the walk/running path to cheer everybody as they made their way to the finish line.  In twenty-one minutes, fifteen seconds, Ron Wright, the winner of the race, came across the line.  Another man crossed the finish line pushing a baby stroller in less than 28 minutes. One mother even ran giving her daughter a piggyback ride for the last part of the race.  There was also a place where people could write their name in Hangul, the native alphabet of the Korean language.  Aimee Aase, another volunteer, said that each character in the Hangul alphabet has its own distinct sound.  After the race, runners could take advantage of free massages offered by volunteers.  There were also prizes, such as DVDs of Korean dramas, and a silent auction. Continue Reading

“In the Shelter of Words” in St. Paul

“I write. It’s my secret,” the high school student said to me. He was present with other students and their guests celebrating the dedication of their art installation, In the Shelter of Words, in the atrium at Face to Face Academy.Students who attend Face to Face are teens in crisis. They may be homeless or abused, they may be mentally ill or chemically dependent. The charter school is located at 1165 Arcade Street in the Payne Phalen neighborhood of Saint Paul.Wendy Brown-Baez, the project director, said, “My mission with the installation is to create a dialogue about youth and poverty and youth and homelessness.”Brown-Baez is an artist and a performance poet. Continue Reading