3437 Garden: Powderhorn Park neighbors find it’s easy being green

Friday, June 14 was a busy day for the gardeners at 3437 Garden in the heart of South Minneapolis’s Powderhorn Park Neighborhood. The city-owned lot is one of 13 neighborhood gardens available to not-for-profit organizations willing to jump through a few bureaucratic hoops and pay some relatively small fees to grow their own food. The lots chosen are too small to develop and should remain gardens well into the future.“The way it works is a not-for-profit chooses a garden, comes in and says, ‘We’d like to lease a lot,’” says Jane Shey, the coordinator of Homegrown Minneapolis, a plan adopted by city hall in 2011 as part of a larger effort to encourage a healthy and sustainable local food culture. “It costs $1 a year for a three- to five-year lease. There’s a deposit that you get back at the end of the year. You have to have liability insurance and if it is through a neighborhood association, you can get a rider on your insurance. Continue Reading

Minneapolis photographer uses his camera to bring diverse community together

Take the concept of “other.’’Really, I’m asking you to consider the word, what it means and how it divides, as does Wing Young Huie, an intriguing Minneapolis photographer and documenter of everyday life.Huie, a native Minnesotan and the first non-immigrant in his family, uses his camera to coax people to think of “otherness” in America, a society polarized by differences in race, gender, age, sexual orientation, wealth and well …lots of things.Community Sketchbook focuses on the economic and social challenges facing communities, especially low-income communities and communities of color, and how people are trying to address them.It is made possible by support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Minneapolis Foundation, and some Minneapolis Foundation donor advisors.Community Sketchbook articles may be republished or distributed, in print or online, with credit to MinnPost and the foundations.Born to parents who came to the United States from China and growing up in Duluth, he knew firsthand “otherness.’’ People would ask him, “Where are you from?” and he’d answer, “Duluth.’’But they’d persist, “Really, where are you from?”Social catalystHuie, 58, uses his photography of south Minneapolis as a social catalyst, a way to build community along and on Chicago Avenue, a racially diverse area perhaps more often known as a symbol of what people lack rather than what they have. Poverty runs high here by government standards.With his pictures, Huie (pronounced “huey”) draws together blacks and whites, Jews and Muslims, the healthy and the ill, young and old, friends and strangers. His art helps people break through barriers, or as he calls them, “bubbles,” of otherness, he says.To that end 100 of his photographs are posted in 19 businesses fanning out along a 10-block stretch of Chicago Avenue from 32nd Street to 42nd Street in a public art exhibit called “We Are the Other.” A similar effort includes his “University Avenue Project,” a public art project in 2010 along the light rail line in St. Paul.His work is one spoke in a wheel of the bigger Arts on Chicago initiative involving a slate of artists and designed to foster and develop community in four Minneapolis neighborhoods: Powderhorn, Central, Bancroft and Bryant. A community celebration with a series of events is planned for June 8.Gap between perception and realityA shooting on a neighborhood street corner drew negative media attention in April.Say Huie: “Often these urban neighborhoods are viewed by crime rates. Continue Reading

Are the golden years of socially engaged art behind us?

It is simply amazing to me that in the most hippie neighborhood in Minneapolis—nay, Minnesota—there is not one single cooperative grocery store. I’m speaking, of course, of the Powderhorn neighborhood, home of In the Heart of the Beast’s MayDay Parade, the May Day Café, rain gardens galore, and impromptu backyard music festivals and puppet shows. While the Seward Co-Op isn’t too far away, it just feels wrong that there isn’t a co-op in the neighborhood proper.Of course, as many readers may know, there used to be a co-op in Powderhorn, which survived the famous Co-Op Wars only to succumb to debt in the 1990s. There are lots of great resources if you are interested in learning about the Co-Op wars, from Craig Cox’s Storefront Revolution: Food Co-ops and the Counterculture (Perspectives on the Sixties) to this documentary from KFAI. There’s also a brief history on the finding aid page of the Historical Society’s collection of papers on the Powderhorn Co-Op’s history.As I was doing research about theater in the 1960s and 70s, I had the opportunity to talk with a few folks about the co-op movement here in the Twin Cities during that time, especially as it overlapped with art and theater. My interviews with Jan Mandell, Gail Irish, and Martha Boesing (not transcribed, but see the audio at the bottom of the At the Foot of the Mountain page) reflect theater artists all working in the overlapping worlds of feminism, leftist politics, and theater.Of course, as anybody who’s ever worked in a cooperative or collective organization knows, it’s easier said than done. Continue Reading

MayDay 2012, still time to lend a hand

It is getting near show time for the 2012 MayDay Parade and Ceremony. The activity level at In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre is charged with vibrancy. The deadline of the May 6th  MayDay has every parade section buzzing in many directions. Continue Reading